Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Brothers Andr, Blaise and Carlos, the last inhabitants of a once-busy monastery, have taken a vow of silence, and they find themselves missing "the laughter of the children." One day, a boy and girl crash-land their orange kite in a tree near the monastery, which the villagers presume vacant. That night, the monks retrieve the kite, set it aloft, and "taking turns, were once more the small boys they used to be." When the children return, they suspect that someone has been flying their kite-and they become certain when Brother Carlos leaves them a new blue kite in another tree. Buckley (Grandmother and I; Grandfather and I) conveys the monks' wistfulness, although she never explains why they hide from the villagers. Primavera (Woe Is Moe; Jack, Skinny Bones, and the Golden Pancakes) enlivens Buckley's nostalgic mood with peppy vignettes of the monks' own childhoods, and downplays the monastery's lonely gloom with sprays of spring-green grass and fuchsia wildflowers. Sunlight, drawn in chalky and blended layers of pastel, streams in the arched windows; the gold kite glows against the dark-blue night sky. She transmutes the peculiarities of the premise into an airborne whimsy. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Three monks live quietly in an old monastery. They live so quietly (including vows of silence,) that the people in the village below have forgotten they exist. Two children and a stranded kite change all this. After the Brothers save the kite from a tree under cover of darkness, it seems only natural to test it in the night sky. Memories of childhood return to them-just as the village children slowly return to play on the monastery hillside. The gifts of life and wonder pervade this gentle, beautifully told and illustrated story.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3A charming story about the last three lonely monks living in a nearly deserted monastery by the sea. Their lives are rejuvenated when they discover a kite caught in a tree outside their tower window. After retrieving it, they spend a magical night flying the kite and remembering carefree childhoods long ago. When two children return the next afternoon and find their kite in a different tree, they suspect the monastery might not be deserted after all. The following day they find a second kite and know for sure that there are still monks within. Gradually, more and more children come to the hilltop to fly their kites, brightening the lives of the kind old men. Whimsical paintings in glowing colored chalk capture the lighthearted spirit of the well-told story.Sally R. Dow, Ossining Public Library, NY
A thoroughly captivating story from Buckley ("Take Care of Things," Edward Said, 1991, etc.) about three monks, the last of their order, who labor in lonely silence in a crumbling monastery on a hilltop, forgotten by the villagers below. When Nicholas and Anarilla bring their new orange kite to fly on the hillside and are forced to leave it entangled in a tree at nightfall, the monksin unspoken accordcarefully bring it down and fly it by the light of the full moon. When the children return the next day, they realize that the monastery is inhabited after all and leave the kite again at sunset where the monks will find it. This time the brothers make a second kite, and from then on the children (and their friends) fly the kites during the day and the monks fly them at night.
With this sweet tale of people from different worlds sharing a love of an exhilarating, innocent pastime come paintings in a deep blue and gold palette. Primavera captures the magic of moonlight on the sea, candlelight on ancient stone, and kite tails snapping against a backdrop of stars.