Kite

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Taylor loves birds and collects eggs. He has the rare opportunity to enhance his collection when a pair of red kites nest nearby. The only problem is, the red kites are extremely rare - only twenty-five are left in the country. Taylor's father, a gamekeeper, is under orders from his boss, the landowner Reg Harris, to kill the kites, who are birds of prey and will go after Harris's grouse population. For Taylor, the temptation also to take the eggs from the kites' nest becomes insurmountable when Harris actually ...
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Overview

Taylor loves birds and collects eggs. He has the rare opportunity to enhance his collection when a pair of red kites nest nearby. The only problem is, the red kites are extremely rare - only twenty-five are left in the country. Taylor's father, a gamekeeper, is under orders from his boss, the landowner Reg Harris, to kill the kites, who are birds of prey and will go after Harris's grouse population. For Taylor, the temptation also to take the eggs from the kites' nest becomes insurmountable when Harris actually asks him to do the job, even though it is illegal. Pangs of terrible guilt follow, and although Taylor tells Harris he's gotten rid of the incriminating evidence, he secretly salvages and hatches one egg. But as soon as the bird is born, elaborate plans must be made to keep its existence a secret in order to save it from being shot during the approaching hunting season.

Although the landowner for whom his father works as a gamekeeper hates all birds of prey, Taylor and his friend raise an endangered red kite in secret.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Voya Reviews
This often powerful but ultimately flawed novel explores complex environmental issues, specifically the relationship between mankind and nature--here an association that is quite bleak, with mankind clearly the villain. Taylor Mase lives on a preserve in 1964 rural England, where his father is gamekeeper. One of his father's responsibilities is to exterminate the "vermin" that prey on the pheasants raised there for "sport" shooting. When two, very rare red kites (birds of prey) are spotted, the landowner orders Taylor's father to kill the birds, an illegal action because the species is endangered. After their nest is discovered, Harris, a particularly nasty bully also living on the preserve, commands Taylor to destroy the eggs. Pretending to do so, Taylor instead makes off with three eggs, one of which hatches. Taylor and a friend decide to try to raise the bird, but things soon go horribly wrong, and the kite undergoes much suffering before the story comes to a relatively positive conclusion. Burgess crafts several emotionally powerful scenes that will leave readers feeling sympathetic for the kite, but he leaves little for readers to relate to in the human characters. Taylor often appears selfish and uncaring about the very bird he wants to save. Harris is completely one-dimensional. The motives of Taylor's father, particularly at the end of the story, are never clearly explained. Burgess offers a rather grim indictment of mankind brutally exerting its dominance over nature. Compelling as the themes and conflicts are in this tale, too many weaknesses cause this title to fall short of complete success. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with aspecial interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 12 to 15, 192p, $16. Reviewer: Ed Sullivan
ALAN Review
Taylor Mase lives on a game preserve in England, and his father, Tom, is the gamekeeper. Reg Harris, the game preserve's landowner, requires Tom to kill vermin or animals of prey to keep the pheasant population large enough for the hunting season. Selling pheasants for meat can be quite profitable. While hunting one day, Taylor finds the egg of a rare bird, the Red Kite. Together with his buddy Alan, he takes care of his new prize, waiting eagerly for its hatching. Soon, the bird is born and before long, the bird is ready is to fly off on its own. As fate would have it, though, landowner Reg Harris discovers the rare bird's existence, and naturally, he tries to kill it. Seeing dollar signs, Harris ignores the fact that not only caring teenagers but also the law protect this species as well. Harris nearly succeeds, but Tom Mase stops him. Reg Harris then--in a rare turn around of events--is held accountable for his actions. Like the award-winning novel Shiloh, this good book makes the case for the rights of both hunters and the ethical treatment of animals. A smart choice for middle school readers. Genre: Environment/Hunting. 2000, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, Ages 9 to 12, $16.00. Reviewer: Edgar H. Thompson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374342289
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/21/2000
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Melvin Burgess is also the author of Smack, which won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Prize. He lives in Manchester, England.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2001

    This is a great book....

    Many people enjoy wildlife through binoculars. Yet, in Kite young readers can enjoy wildlife through a book, as they watch a young Kite grow. A Kite is a real bird, they existed around the 1800's. However near the 1900's their population started to decline. They are now on the endangered species list. Kite, written by Melvin Burgess, was a fast paced book if young readers like adventures. I myself loved the details used by the author and the many twists and turns. I give it a complete five out of five for it's courageous story.

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