Kaito's Cloth

Overview

With the winter days approaching, young Kaito journeys to the Mountain of Dreams to watch her butterflies soar one last time. However, when she reaches her destination after an arduous three-day trek, she is too late. Her butterflies have died. “Weep no more,” says the Lord of Flight, creator of all butterflies. “Only the wings are stilled. Flight is eternal.” Inspired, Kaito has an idea: She takes a silver needle and soft spider's silk, and sews a pair of wings that take breath in the wind. With her kite, now ...

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Overview

With the winter days approaching, young Kaito journeys to the Mountain of Dreams to watch her butterflies soar one last time. However, when she reaches her destination after an arduous three-day trek, she is too late. Her butterflies have died. “Weep no more,” says the Lord of Flight, creator of all butterflies. “Only the wings are stilled. Flight is eternal.” Inspired, Kaito has an idea: She takes a silver needle and soft spider's silk, and sews a pair of wings that take breath in the wind. With her kite, now everyone can enjoy the beauty of a butterfly's flight all winter long.

In Kaito's Cloth, Glenda Millard and Gaye Chapman offer an emotionally resonant and visually arresting story about the beauty of butterflies, and the resilience of the human spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Australian artist Chapman's world is populated with mysterious hybrids. Is the heroine Kaito, with her folded paper nose, doll or human? Is the portly blue Lord of Flight, to whom Kaito brings her dying butterflies, bird or insect? The palace of the Lord of Flight, perched on the craggy Mountain of Dreams, overlooks a Chinese willow-pattern landscape with a field of cabbages below. Despite this tumult of invention, story and pictures coalesce. Kaito climbs the Mountain to ask the Lord of Flight to revive her beloved butterflies. Millard, also Australian, employs Arabian Nights-style language with practiced skill: "Ah, Kaito, weep no more," says the Lord of Flight, "for though their days were fleeting, your butterflies have danced upon the breath of heaven." Although he can't restore them, he tells Kaito that the essence of the butterfly cannot die: "We must learn to look for it in other places." Kaito returns to her home in the valley with an idea: sewing cloth with "ten thousand tiny stitches," she fashions a kite; pictures imply that Kaito, too, takes flight. The dreamy text and otherworldly setting create a mildly hypnotic effect, yielding a bedtime story for anyone who's longed for wings. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Young Kaito has climbed the Way of Many Footsteps to the Mountain of Dreams because she hopes to watch her butterflies float one more time. But they have faded and died. The Lord of Flight, who makes and floats butterflies, tries to console her. He tells her that the purpose of butterflies is simply to fly, and hers have fulfilled their purpose. As she watches, the Lord of Flight floats new butterflies to bring joy to the people in the valley before winter. But he cannot make hers fly again. Sadly, Kaito returns home. There, she has an idea that returns magic to the winter silence of the mountain. For "[f]light is eternal." Millard's evocative language describes the beauty of the uplifting message and is matched by double-page scenes drawn with fine black line drawings and tinted with transparent watercolors. As depicted both on the front end page's image of the Lord of Flight's studio and on the title page's scene of mountain peaks and a daunting staircase, doll-like Kaito's world is a magical one. Her creative talents are displayed both on the jacket and at the story's end, when she spreads the "wings" she has created and floats across the final pages into the world of swooping birds and inventive butterflies. This is a tale to ponder. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3- An enigmatic offering. The Lord of Flight, a sort-of hummingbird/human/insect hybrid, plays God when he blows the gift of flight into the wings of the dormant butterflies that line the walls of the mountain hall in which he lives. Kaito, a poppetlike child whose dearest wish is to see her own butterflies aloft again, carries them on the three-day journey up the Mountain of Dreams to see if the Lord of Flight will grant her desire. But when she reaches her destination, she finds that she is too late-her insects have died. The Lord of Flight comforts her by saying that, while even he cannot revive them, they have "danced upon the breath of heaven and have gladdened the hearts of all who saw them." He explains that though their wings are stilled when they die, "Flight is eternal." His words inspire Kaito and she crafts a gossamer kite that will continually provide her the gift of flight, even during winter. Chapman uses pens, pigment, and stamps to create illustrations with repeated elements and rendered in pleasing complementary shades of crimson, cerulean, and yellow. Featuring the foreshadowing of Kaito's own someday-death and her perilous perching on stalagmite-like crags, they are charming and disturbing at once. Combined with the heavily symbolic text, they make for a message that flies above the heads of its audience.-Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT

Kirkus Reviews
Japanese influences in the telling and the pictures notwithstanding, this first U.S. edition of an original tale reads most plainly as metaphor, unlinked to a particular time or place. Winter is coming, but because she wants to see her tattered, treasured butterflies fly one more time young Kaito treks up the Mountain of Dreams to make the request of their creator, the Lord of Flight. By the time she arrives, the butterflies are dead, but the Lord of Flight gently comforts her with the assertion that they have fulfilled their purpose, and that "flight is eternal. It belongs to no one and to everyone." At this, Kaito stitches wings of her own, stiffens them with bamboo to make a kite and joyfully soars off over the snowy landscape. Chapman gives the measured, poetic text lyrical illustrations, placing the doll-like Kaito and the strange-looking Lord of Flight-part human, part insect, part hummingbird-amid stylized mountains, clouds of butterflies and graceful swirls of wind. Though mannered and probably over the heads of younger children, this isn't nearly as twee as it sounds, and may provide solace to readers facing their own change or loss. (Picture book. 6+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399247972
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/27/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.32 (w) x 10.38 (h) x 0.41 (d)

Meet the Author

Glenda Millard lives in Australia.

Gaye Chapman lives in Australia.

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