Tradition and family loyalty come into question in this book by the recently named Newbery Medalist, set in Seoul, Korea, in 1473. Two brothers anticipate the annual New Year's Kite competition, wondering how to balance convention and love for one's talent. Ages 9-12. (Feb.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
For many of us the thrill of flying a kite is magical and inspirational. It was so for two young brothers living in Seoul, Korea in 1473. As the oldest boy, Kee-sup has the responsibility of keeping the family name and honor. He also seems to get special treatment and presents, so younger brother Young-sup feels envious from time to time. Although Kee-sup receives a kite for his New Year celebration, it is his brother who instinctively knows the techniques of flying. Kee-sup has little ability, but has magic fingers and later creates his own beautiful tiger kite. The young king sees it and wants one of his own, so a special dragon kite, flecked with gold leaf is fashioned for the ruler. On the following New Year the boy king realizes that he can not compete in the kite competition as no one will really try to beat him, so he asks Young-sup to fly the dragon kite. Family tensions rise as Father feels the first born son should have the privilege, but the brothers realize they need to combine their talents. Young-sup becomes the competitor and needs to use all his skills and his brother's technical know-how. The goal is to try to cut the other kites free while remaining in a special circle. The story is engaging and offers insight into Korean culture and historical information about the kite fighting competitions. 2000, Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin, Ages 8 to 12, $15.00. Reviewer: Laura Hummel
In 1473 two Korean brothers are about to enter the New Year kite competition. Young-sup is a skilled kite flyer, whereas his older brother, Kee-sup, is quickly becoming a master kite builder. When they are befriended by the young king, he commands that they enter the competition in his honor. They realize that to be successful, it will take both of their unique talents. This is no ordinary book about kites, and these are not the simple kites one might find in a modern-day park. They are traditional artistic Asian kites that are used in "kite fights"--competitions in which one flyer tries to knock out his opponent's kite. Park fills her story with interesting details on the construction of these kites and the ritual of the competitions. At the same time, she builds the story of two brothers who could easily become opponents. Kee-sup is the privileged eldest son, and Young-sup feels left behind and second best. The brothers work together closely, and each soon realizes that although his skills are important, his talent becomes stronger when combined with another's. The author presents a good lesson that is not thrust in the face of the reader. Although the story is a bit slow to start and does not present enough information on the background of these kites, Park spins a gentle tale of brothers, friendship, and the spirit of competition. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P M (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Clarion, Ages 12 to 14, 144p, $15. Reviewer: Rebecca Vnuk
Gr 4-7-When Young-sup holds a kite in his hand, he knows exactly how to make it fly. His older brother, Kee-sup, struggles to launch his kite, but he knows exactly how to construct one that is beautiful in form and perfectly balanced. One day, the young king of Korea suddenly arrives with all of his attendants on the hillside where the brothers are playing with their matching tiger kites. He requests their help in learning to fly one, and then asks Kee-sup to make a kite for him. The boy is deeply honored and works diligently on it, a dragon flecked with real gold paint. Meanwhile, Young-sup is determined to win the kite-fighting competition at the New Year's festival. He practices on the hillside where the king frequently joins him, and their growing friendship leads to an interesting collaboration and a thorny challenge to tradition in Korea in 1473. The final contest, in which Young-sup flies for the king, is riveting. Though the story is set in medieval times, the brothers have many of the same issues facing siblings today. They play and argue, they compete for their father's attention, and eventually develop a greater understanding of one another. The author has drawn her characters with a sure touch, creating two very different boys struggling to figure out who they are. With ease and grace, Park brings these long-ago children to life.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kite making and flying strengthens the bond between two brothers, and earns them a royal friend to boot, in this perceptive tale set in 15th century Korea. The fighter kites that 14-year-old Kee-sup builds and decorates are splendid, but it's his younger brother Young-sup who has the innate gift for flying them. Nonetheless, when the boy king himself asks Kee-sup to create a special kite and Young-sup to fly it in the upcoming New Year's kite competition, to Young-sup's outrage their father decides that it's Kee-sup's place as first born to be the flier, despite his lack of aptitude. Park (Seesaw Girl, 1999) tucks traditional Korean customs and values into the story at every turn, while giving each of her young characters a distinct, complementary set of abilities and inclinations; it is only because everyone from the king on down helps, directly or indirectly, that Young-sup is, in the end, allowed to fly the kite His victory comes as no foregone conclusion either, but only after a series of hard-fought rounds. Readers will enjoy watching these engaging characters find ways of overcoming webs of social and cultural constraints to achieve a common goal, and the author expresses the pleasures of creating and flying kites"A few sticks, a little paper, some string. And the wind. Kite magic`with contagious enthusiasm. (Fiction. 9-11)
"With ease and grace, Park brings these long-ago children to life."SLJ, Starred School Library Journal, Starred