Night Sky Dragons

Night Sky Dragons

5.0 1
by Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham, Patrick Benson
     
 

A rousing narrative by Carnegie Medalist Mal Peet and his wife, Elspeth Graham, with atmospheric illustrations by acclaimed artist Patrick Benson.

Yazul loves making kites with his grandfather, but all he truly desires is the approval of his father. Yazul’s father, lord of a han along the Silk Road, is a man made stern by loneliness, and Yazul

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Overview

A rousing narrative by Carnegie Medalist Mal Peet and his wife, Elspeth Graham, with atmospheric illustrations by acclaimed artist Patrick Benson.

Yazul loves making kites with his grandfather, but all he truly desires is the approval of his father. Yazul’s father, lord of a han along the Silk Road, is a man made stern by loneliness, and Yazul’s love of kite-making only seems to elicit disappointment. "Travel and trade are what matters," his father says. But when the han is attacked by bandits, Yazul has an idea. With the help of his grandfather, he might just be able to use his kite-making skills to scare the bandits away and save the han. Will Yazul’s courage and cleverness make his father proud?

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
The dragons in this clever, affecting tale set along the Silk Road in a long-ago Central Asia are mere illusions, but they are powerful indeed…
Publishers Weekly
09/22/2014
Peet and Graham, who most recently collaborated on Mysterious Traveler, add to their library of tales about children from other times and places with this story about Yazul, a boy who lives along the Silk Road. Yazul’s father is lord of a han, of one of the great communal shelters along the trade route, and Yazul earns his displeasure by breaking a precious plate, a family heirloom. When bandits lay siege to the han, Yazul redeems himself with a surprising scheme. “Is this how you imagined them?” asks Yazul’s kindly grandfather, helping the boy construct giant black kites with which he plans to terrify the bandits. “Are they scary enough?” Using one of the new inventions that the Silk Road brought to the West, Grandfather loads gunpowder into kites’ bamboo tails so they’ll explode like firecrackers. Benson’s (North) pen-and-watercolor portraits concentrate on details of costume and culture, lingering on Yazul’s peaked boots and upturned cap. The result is an adventure that, despite its distant setting, makes it clear that Yazul is not very different from the readers of his story. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
The relationship between Yazul and Grandfather radiates warmth and true delight... Benson's pen-and-watercolor illustrations bring out the complexities of Yazul's relationships, from Grandfather's bold colors to simple, sepia-toned lines for Yazul's father. A treasured broken dish showing the history of Yazul's ancestors draws readers in with its poignant shards.This dazzling, heartwarming story excites, soars and redefines "go fly a kite."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This rich, engaging story is a welcome addition to historical fiction, introducing life along the Silk Road. ... The writing is wonderfully descriptive, creating a realistic setting, a quick-moving plot, and sympathetic characters with minimal text. Throughout the book, watercolor illustrations perfectly complement the action while providing additional plot and historical details that allow readers to imagine more fully the time and place. ... The uniqueness of the story and its setting make it a wonderful offering for readers looking for a far-flung, adventure-filled story.
—School Library Journal

Benson’s pen-and-watercolor portraits concentrate on details of costume and culture, lingering on Yazul’s peaked boots and upturned cap. The result is an adventure that, despite its distant setting, makes it clear that Yazul is not very different from the readers of his story.
—Publishers Weekly

This nicely designed and illustrated volume offers a story with broad appeal. ... Created with pen and watercolor, Benson’s detailed illustrations help readers envision Yazul’s world. A well-knit story that reads aloud beautifully.
—Booklist

There’s an old-fashioned flavor to this long-ago-and-far-away tale... The trickster elements of the story will intrigue readers.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Dramatic yet subtly rendered watercolor illustrations... This vivid and emotionally resonant adventure from the husband-and-wife authors of "Cloud Tea Monkeys" reads equally well aloud or alone.
—Wall Street Journal

Suspenseful and compelling.
—The Buffalo News

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Young Yazul yearns for the coming of spring to his remote han situated along the Silk Road, in a valley “halfway between the two ends of the world.” With spring will come the chance to fly the intricate kites he fashions with his beloved grandfather. Yazul’s stern widowed father, ruler and protector of the han, warns his son not to live for kite-flying dreams: “There is nothing in the sky. Put your feet on the earth.” But when the han is besieged by marauding bandits, it just might be Yazul’s dragon kites that end up saving the han and redeeming the dreamy, imaginative boy in his father’s critical eyes. Both text and art here are things of great beauty, wrought with the same loveliness as Yazul’s soaring kites. Sentences like “Fear filled Yazul like a winter sickness” and “I need to speak to the sky gods. I need to beg them for a dark night and a strong and well-shaped wind” linger on the tongue and in the heart. Yazul’s longings, the tenderness he shares with his grandfather, and his father’s hard-won pride: all are exquisitely shown by Benson’s haunting paintings, in this stunning and completely satisfying collaboration. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.; Ages 5 to 8.
School Library Journal
10/01/2014
Gr 2–4—This rich, engaging story is a welcome addition to historical fiction, introducing life along the Silk Road. Yazul lives in a han, a walled town where merchants could find shelter and safety, of which his father is the lord. Yazul's father disapproves of his interest in kite-making and wants him to learn to run the han instead. When bandits lay siege to the town, however, it is Yazul's skill and ingenuity that provide a solution and, ultimately, inspire his father's admiration. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, creating a realistic setting, a quick-moving plot, and sympathetic characters with minimal text. Throughout the book, watercolor illustrations perfectly complement the action while providing additional plot and historical details that allow readers to imagine more fully the time and place. Although the latter aren't specified, the uniqueness of the story and its setting make it a wonderful offering for readers looking for a far-flung, adventure-filled story.—Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-08-06
Carnegie Medal winner Peet and Graham team up again (Mysterious Traveler, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, 2013) to tell the tale of how a boy with a mischievous streak and love for handcrafted kites helps keep his han, his home along Asia's Silk Road, from danger. Yazul longs for spring days, when warm winds ideal for kite-flying blow. He lovingly crafts kites with Grandfather, whose workshop overflows with long stems of bamboo, fat balls of twine and bolts of silk. When Yazul shows his father, the lord of the han, his latest, hawk-inspired kite, his father is not impressed. He cautions Yazul against cloud-filled dreams and tells him to "put [his] feet on the earth." Yazul's heart grows weary with his disapproval. Later, bandits surround the han and threaten to overtake the community, and the elders and Yazul's father become desperate for help. Yazul has an idea, one that lifts spirits and explodes with surprise. The relationship between Yazul and Grandfather radiates warmth and true delight, as shown by Yazul's affection for Grandfather's blue bird tattoo. Benson's pen-and-watercolor illustrations bring out the complexities of Yazul's relationships, from Grandfather's bold colors to simple, sepia-toned lines for Yazul's father. A treasured broken dish showing the history of Yazul's ancestors draws readers in with its poignant shards.This dazzling, heartwarming story excites, soars and redefines "go fly a kite." (author's note) (Historical fiction. 4-10)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763661441
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
10/14/2014
Pages:
64
Sales rank:
634,254
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
AD640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Husband and wife team Mal Peet (1947–2015) and Elspeth Graham wrote three books together: Cloud Tea Monkeys, Mysterious Traveler, and Night Sky Dragons. Mal Peet also authored several YA novels, including the Carnegie Medal–winning novel Tamar, the  Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book Life: An Exploded Diagram and three Paul Faustino novels: Keeper, The Penalty, and Exposure.

Patrick Benson has won many awards for his illustrations, including the Mother Goose Award, the Christopher Award, and the Kurt Maschler Award. He has worked with such luminaries as Roald Dahl and Russell Hoban, and his picture book with Martin Waddell, Owl Babies, is a classic with more than 12 million copies in print.

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Night Sky Dragons 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
YoungMensanBookParade More than 1 year ago
Yazul is a young Chinese boy that lives along the Silk Road, which carries merchants traveling to and from China and the Mediterranean Sea. He and his family live in a "han," a place of safety for travelers on the Silk Road. After his mother's death, Yazul seeks refuge in his grandfather's workshop. There, Yazul can escape his sorrows as his grandfather teaches him how to build and fly kites. However, Yazul's father disapproves of this "daydreaming" and wants him to focus on every day reality, which consists of travel and trade. Then, one day, bandits come to attack the han. It is up to Yazul to to come up with a plan to help his family. I enjoyed this book because reading a fictional account about a boy living along the Silk Road made the history come alive. Other readers would appreciate the message that there is a place for dreaming in the real world too. Isaac V, age 8, Hawaii Mensa