Basant is here, with feasts and parties to celebrate the arrival of spring. But what Malik is looking forward to most is doing battle from his rooftop with Falcon, the special kite he has built for speed. Today is Malik’s chance to be the best kite fighter, the king of Basant. In two fierce battles, Malik takes down the kites flown by the bully next door. Then Malik moves on, guiding Falcon into leaps, swirls, and dives, slashing strings and plucking kites from the sky. By the end of the day, Malik has a big pile...
Basant is here, with feasts and parties to celebrate the arrival of spring. But what Malik is looking forward to most is doing battle from his rooftop with Falcon, the special kite he has built for speed. Today is Malik’s chance to be the best kite fighter, the king of Basant. In two fierce battles, Malik takes down the kites flown by the bully next door. Then Malik moves on, guiding Falcon into leaps, swirls, and dives, slashing strings and plucking kites from the sky. By the end of the day, Malik has a big pile of captured kites. He is the king! But then the bully reappears, trying to take a kite from a girl in the alley below. With a sudden act of kingly generosity, Malik finds the perfect way to help the girl. This lively, contemporary story introduces readers to a centuries-old festival and the traditional sport of kite fighting, and to a spirited, determined young boy who masters the sport while finding his own way to face and overcome life’s challenges.
- Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
During the spring festival of Basant in Lahore, Pakistan, our narrator young Malik looks forward to launching his kite Falcon in the traditional kite-flying battles. He particularly wants to settle accounts with the bully next door. His sister helps him launch his small but speedy Falcon. Malik manages to snap the strings of both of the bully's kites. Then he flies Falcon to conquer many others. The downed kites then belong to whoever catches them when they fall. His brother and sister collect many. Malik truly feels like King of the Kites. Then, with one kind gesture, he brings his successful day to a happy end. Kromer uses mixed media and collage to create a striking and successful visual story, with the kites providing the major visual impact. A double-page scene of the flight from the rooftop with close to a hundred brilliant kites being guided to cut others free is most powerful. The naturalistic illustrations also inform us about the streets, houses, and clothing. The final double-page night scene from the rooftop showing the sky full of stars and exploding rockets makes a satisfying ending. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Spring has arrived in Lahore, Pakistan, and the celebration of Basant ushers it in with an annual kite-flying contest. Young Malik plans to win the self-proclaimed title of "king of Basant" by capturing and/or setting free more kites than anyone else. He puts all his faith in his small handmade kite, Falcon, and enters the competition. Thus ensues the story of how Malik, who, incidentally, is in a wheelchair, sits on his balcony and, with assistance from his sister and brother, wins the coveted designation and defeats the bully next door. Mixed-media collage illustrations consist of an intriguing combination of cut paper, floss, yarn, cloth, and pencil sketches. Varying perspectives include ground level, balcony level, and kite's-eye views of the action. The breezy conditions are evident in the soaring kites, billowing curtains, and Malik's sister's clothing. An author's note gives a historical view of the spring festival and its traditions in the ancient city.—Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI
Set in Pakistan during Basant, "the most exciting day of the year," this story focuses on the strength and resourcefulness of a child in a wheelchair as he navigates the skies at the spring kite festival. Perched on the rooftop and assisted by his brother and sister, Malik launches his small but swift creation, named Falcon, into the stratosphere, where it defeats both of the kites that belong to the bully next door. (Unlikely as that may be, it will undoubtedly please the intended audience.) Falcon sends many others to the ground, where "they'll belong to whoever finds them. But at least they will have tasted freedom." Silk, burlap, brocade, embroidery, ribbons and rice paper mingle with light brown figures outlined in black within exquisite and dynamic mixed-media collages. In one particularly successful scene, layered buildings and billowing laundry form a backdrop, the three siblings dominate the middle ground, and Malik's white robe becomes a sky against which small figures cycle in the foreground. Pointed Moorish arches are a design element on almost every page, often framing the text and lending a cultural reference. Displaying another side of his personality, the "King" concludes his day of warfare with a secret act of kindness. Krömer's inventive compositions are a visually exciting match for Khan's introduction to an appealing event (originally published in Canada in 2001 with art by different illustrators). This story soars. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)