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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


***The Kite Rider

by Geraldine McCaughrean

Reviewed February 17, 2003.
HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2002.  First published in England, 2001.  272 pages.
Winner of the Bronze Medal, 2001 Nestle Smarties Book Prize.

The Kite Rider opens with the death of young Haoyou’s father.  He is forced to ride the Wind Tester kite flown to determine if his ship’s voyage will be lucky.  He dies of a heart attack.  Haoyou is sure that this death is the fault of the first mate, Di Chou, and so is horrified when Di Chou asks his uncle Bo for permission to marry Haoyou’s mother.

Haoyou gets the help of his cousin in trying to stop Di Chou.  One thing leads to another, and Haoyou ends up joining a circus with an act of flying into the sky on a giant kite.  The circus leader is kind and compassionate, but he has a hidden reason for wanting to perform for Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler of China.

This story is an adventure yarn that never gets predictable.  The setting of medieval China is presented in a believable, interesting way.  It’s the sort of book that makes you lose track of time as you read, since there’s always some new suspenseful situation that keeps you reading on.

Review of another book by Geraldine McCaughrean:
Gilgamesh the Hero

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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