|Image from GraceLin.com|
It’s a windy day, perfect for flying kites! From their trip to the art store to buy supplies to flying the colorful dragon kite, this story shows the process of making a kite as narrated by a young girl. Each of her family members, Ba-Ba (father), Ma-Ma (mother), and her two sisters, Mei-Mei and Jie-Jie, completes a different portion of the kite, from gluing the sticks to the paper to painting on a laughing mouth. Finally, the family takes their beautiful kite out to the hill.
“Look up! Our dragon is talking to the wind! What do you think he is saying?”
This story celebrates the ancient tradition of kite flying that can be found in cultures all over the world. Lin uses short, simple sentences to describe the action in the story. The illustrations are stylistically bold and colorful, yet Lin is careful to include details that make the story richer. The family is Chinese-American and Lin deftly incorporates cultural markers into the illustrations. For instance, the family wears Chinese-style patterns and prints and removes their outdoor shoes and puts on slippers while indoors. There are two distinct environments presented in the book. The windy out of doors is based in cool colors with swirls of wind covering the light blue sky. In contrast, the inside of the family’s house is cozy, glowing with warm yellows, oranges, and reds. The book concludes with an author’s note about the history of kite flying in China, the symbolism of kites, traditional kite festivals, and ways other cultures have embraced and celebrated kite flying. Don’t miss the endpapers! The papers at the beginning of the book feature the supplies needed to make the kite and the papers at the end show a variety of kites and their symbolism in Chinese culture.
Read this story as part of a kite storytime or program. Try pairing it with The Emperor and the Kite, Henry and the Kite Dragon, Fly, Kite,Fly!: The Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher, and Kites: Magic Wishes That Fly Up to the Sky. Begin or end your program by singing the Disney classic, Let’s Go Fly a Kite. Follow up with some fingerplays and rhymes, such as Five Little Kites, Fly My Kite or My Kite.
Of course, you’ll want to make a kite of your own after reading this story. Most of these crafts will require some adult assistance, so plan accordingly. There are dozens of kite tutorials on the internet, but here are a few that I’m itching to try myself. Try making some brown paper bag kites as posted on the Rhythm of Home blog. The Maya*Made blog uses a 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper and a bamboo skewer as the base for their kite. Formula Mom uses recycled items to create her kite. Although this book focuses on Chinese kites expand your program to look at kites from other cultures and make some Japanese Koi Kites.
If you are looking for kite crafts that can be done with less adult supervision, try making paper plate kites. Check out Lin’s website (one of my favorite author websites), which includes instructions for decorative (i.e. they won't fly) construction paper dragon kites. For an even quicker and smaller craft, make origami kites. You can omit the toothpick and just tape a piece of yarn for the tail.