What the Kite Saw

Groundwood. May 2021. 32p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781773062433.
K-Gr 2–The world shifts on its axis the day soldiers occupy a young boy’s town. His father and brother are taken away, leaving his family reeling from the uncertainty left in their wake. When a curfew is imposed that restricts people to their homes for the greater part of each day, the boy does what he can to improve the moods of his mother and younger sister. One day, the boy has an idea that he shares with his friends as a way to bring hope to a frightening situation. He creates a kite, and then imagines the view of the world from the kite’s lofty height, including, on a distant spot, his brother and father waving at him. Though short-lived, the boy’s creation inspires more stories to light the darkness surrounding them. Soft, pastel illustrations create the visual atmosphere of this story, emphasizing browns and grays with a few chosen accents of brighter colors. The threat of war is unsettling at best, and feelings of fear and helplessness are evident on the people’s faces, primarily with light skin, although a few of the townspeople have darker complexions. As the story progresses, the buildings in the background begin to crumble, adding more to the narrative than the words alone provide. Simple text and vivid, emotion-filled imagery make this book well-suited to a wide range of readers. Adults will find echoes of World War II atrocities, although the author’s small note credits the inspiration for her story to Palestinian children.
VERDICT This hopeful story is an important means of understanding and coping with the realities of war in one’s backyard.

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