Ages 6 to 8
Pelican Publishing, 2004, 1-58980-180-6
One day the artist's apprentice, Chuan, and the puppeteer's daughter Jing Jing are looking at the sunset when they see a large party of armed warriors approaching the palace. Quickly the people inside the palace close the gates and they refuse to let the warriors in knowing full well that they mean to loot and destroy the palace in the warlord's absence.
Over the next few days and nights the soldiers try to get into the palace using fire arrows, and by ramming the doors. Nothing works. At the same time though, the people in the palace cannot get out and eventually they will run out of supplies.
Chuan tries to take his mind off his problems and worries by making paper for his master the artist. Jing Jing asked Chuan if he thinks he can "measure paper to make a square kite." Chuan does not see why Jing Jing would want to make kites at such a terrible time but she tells him that her kites will save them all from the enemy. So Chuan works on making the paper. As he works Jing Jing makes three flutes.
Soon Chuan has the paper ready and he measures it according to Jing Jing's specifications - "six hands high and six hands wide." Next the paper is cut and mounted on bamboo sticks. One of the three flutes is tied to each kite.
At last the kites are ready and that night Jing Jing, Chuan and one of the warlord's sons flies them over the wall of the palace and over the camp of the soldiers. The ghostly shapes of the kites along with the eerie sounds that the flutes make as the wind blows through them terrifies the soldiers and they run for their lives.
The author adds to this delightful story by providing her readers with further information about the history of kite building in China and with a description of how the reader can make a kite using supplies found at home.
Unique illustrations capture the drama of this story as the people in the warlord's palace try to save themselves from the enemy. Light and shadow, sunshine and night's gloom fill the pages, adding atmosphere to this exciting and very special story.
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