Dear Book Lovers, Welcome! I am delighted that you have found The Through the Looking Glass blog. For over twenty years I reviewed children's literature titles for my online journal, which came out six times a year. Every book review written for that publication can be found on the Through the Looking Glass website (the link is below). I am now moving in a different direction, though the columns that I write are still book-centric. Instead of writing reviews, I'm offering you columns on topics that have been inspired by wonderful books that I have read. I tell you about the books in question, and describe how they have have impacted me. This may sound peculiar to some of you, but the books that I tend to choose are ones that resonate with me on some level. Therefore, when I read the last page and close the covers, I am not quite the same person that I was when first I started reading the book. The shift in my perspective might be miniscule, but it is still there. The books I am looking are both about adult and children's titles. Some of the children's titles will appeal to adults, while others will not. Some of the adult titles will appeal to younger readers, particularly those who are eager to expand their horizons.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Picture Book Monday - A review of Red Kite, Blue Kite

Telling the story of a terrible time or experience is not easy, especially when you want to tell the story to young children. In today's picture book the author gives children a sense of what it was like to be a little child during China's Cultural Revolution. Often moments in the account are sad, but hope is always there and that hope makes this a powerful, memorable, and beautiful book.

Ji-li Jiang
Illustrated by Greg Ruth
Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Hyperion, 2013, 978-142312753-6
One of Tai Shan’s favorite things to do is to go to the “tippy-top” of the roof of his house with his Baba to fly kites. Tai Shan’s kite is a small red one, and his father’s is a big blue one. As they fly their kites together Baba tells his son stories, stories that make their time together on the roof particularly special. Up there flying his kite Tai Shan feels as free as the kite that is flying above his head.
   Then “a bad time” comes and Tai Shan’s life is turned upside down. Schools are closed and Baba is sent to work at a labor camp. Since Tai Shan’s mother died when Tai Shan was born, the little boy is sent to stay in a village with a farmer called Granny Wang. Though Granny Wang is kind to Tai Shan, the little boy misses his father whom he sees only one day a week, on Sunday. Every Sunday Baba walks for miles from his camp to the village where Tai Shan is living, and on this one day the father and son fly their kites as they used to do.
   Then one day Tai Shan’s father tells his son that he will not be able to visit for a while. To stay connected to his son Tai Shan’s father comes up with a plan. Tai Shan should fly his red kite every morning, and his father will fly his blue kite every sunset. Their kites will be their own private “secret signal.”
   Day after day the two kites send their messages of love to Tai Shan and his Baba even though they are miles apart. Then one day Baba’s blue kite does not appear.
   Based on a true story about a boy and his father during China’s Cultural Revolution, this evocative picture book beautifully captures the power that hope can have on people during hard times. At such times, small things, like red and blue kites, come to represent something precious.
   With a memorable story and lovely illustrations, this picture book gives readers an experience that they will remember long after the last page is read. 

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