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Red Kite, Blue Kite    by Ji-li Jiang & Greg Ruth order for
Red Kite, Blue Kite
by Ji-li Jiang
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2013 (2013)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Inspired by the problems families faced during the Cultural Revolution in China, this picture book tells the tale of Tai Shan and his father, Baba. The two loved flying kites together and the activity became one of Baba sharing wonderful stories with his son.

That all changes when the social upheaval of the Cultural Revolution results in Tai Shan's father being sent away to a labor camp. The child goes to live with his Granny Wang but he does see his father every Sunday. Then one day the little boy learns that his father won't be able to visit once a week as he has done in the past.

'I have an idea,' Baba tells his son. 'Every morning you can go to the hill to fly your red kite. I will see it from my camp. Every sunset I will fly my blue kite, so you can see it from here. That way we can see each other every day.'

This plan works well until one day the blue kite does not appear in the sky. Why the kite isn't there and what happens next in this story provides the substance of the last part of this moving narrative. I'll let you discover how this tale ends.

This special story of the love a father and son share is set against actual events that unfolded between 1966 and 1976. The Cultural Revolution was one of the darker periods in Chinese history and this book shows how it unsettled families. Red Kite, Blue Kite would be appropriate reading for children six years of age and older. It could be used as a way of beginning a discussion on this major historical event as well.

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