King For A Day – Multicultural Children’s Book Day

King for a Day9781600606595_p0_v1_s260x420King For A Day

Rukhsana Khan, Author

Christiane Kromer, Illustrator

Lee & Low Books Inc., Fiction, Oct. 1, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Kites, Basant Festival, Disabilities, Pakistan

Opening“Basant is the most exciting day of the year! With feasts and music and parties, people celebrate the arrival of spring. And many will make their way to the rooftops of Lahore to test their skills in kite-flying battles.”

Synopsis:  Malik is up early and perched in his wheelchair on the rooftop. He is ready to launch his home-made kite, Falcon, into the skies. He sends his brother to the streets to catch the kites he hopes to set free today. His sister helps him launch his kite. Falcon is small, but built for speed. Malik works his string so that Falcon dives and breaks the strings on the kites of the next door bully. He moves on to circle other kites plucking them from the sky. His brother returns with a pile of kites. By the end of the day Malik has succeeded in showing that he is the best kite fighter and flyer — the King of Basant. As Malik watches the bully shove a girl to the ground and grab her kite, this king shows his kindness to the girl in a special way.

Why I like this book: Master storyteller Rukhsana Khan has written a celebratory story about a boy who is clearly more focused on his abilities than his confinement to a wheelchair. Choosing a child with physical challenges will inspire other children. Malik has talent, technique, self-confidence, and determination. He wants to win the annual kite battle in Lahore. And, Malik beats his bully neighbor with his kite-flying skills and not hurtful words. Khan has turned this centuries-old tradition into a contemporary story for children. Christiane Kromer’s illustrations are exquisite and there is a feast of color on every page.  She focuses on so much detail that you can feel the breeze of the soaring kites on this perfect day. Her pen and ink illustrations are a mixed collage of beautiful fabrics, laces, cut paper and folk art designs of Pakistan. King For A Day is a beautiful collaborative effort between author and illustrator.  Visit Rukhsana Khan and Christiane Kromer at their websites.

Resources:  Khan has devoted a page at the end of the book to the Basant Festival, which is celebrated across South Asia to herald in the spring. Making a kite would be a fun activity for kids. Watch this Kidspot Youtube video and learn how to make your own home-made kite. With markers you can write fun or  inspirational messages or write you name on your kite if it blows away.

Special Note: Monday, January 27,  I am joining other bloggers in celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day, which celebrates diversity in children’s literature. The event is co-hosted by Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. Please visit the website to view multicultural books in all genres.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Red Kite, Blue Kite

RedKite9781423127536_p0_v4_s260x420Red Kite, Blue Kite

Ji-Li Jiang, Author

Greg Ruth, Illustrator

Disney Hyperion Books, fiction, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Father/son relationship, Kites, Separation, Hope, Chinese Cultural Revolution, Multicultural

Opening:  “I love to fly kites.  But not from the ground.  My city is crowded, and the streets are skinny.  Baba and I fly our kites from the tippy-top of our triangle roof.  We are above but still under, neither here nor there.  We are free, like the kites.”

Synopsis:  When Tai Shan and his father, Baba, are separated during China’s Cultural Revolution, Tai Shan goes to live with Granny Wang.  Baba is able to visit Tai Shan every Sunday, but they stay close by greeting each other every day with flying kites.   It is their secret way of communicating their love for one another and ease the separation.  One day Tai Shan isn’t able to see Baba’s kite in the sky and worries if he will ever see his father again.

Why I like this book:  Ji-Li Jiang has written a beautiful poetic story about a father/son relationship that endures under the most difficult time in China’s history.  Greg Ruth’s double-page spreads are done in ink and watercolors.  They are large, evocative and a feast for the eyes. It is a compelling story that teaches children about the Chinese culture and a little history at the same time.

Resources;  There is an author’s note at the end that talks about the author’s relationship to the story and the Chinese Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976.  The author was born in Shanghai and spent many years dealing with her childhood memories of surviving the Cultural Revolution.  Visit Ji-li Jiang’s website to learn more about using this book in the classroom.  She has a video presentation that can be downloaded.  Talk about separation with kids and ask them what they would do to stay in touch with a parent.