________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 5 . . . . November 2, 2001

cover King of the Skies.

Rukhsana Khan. Illustrated by Laura Fernandez & Rick Jacobson.
Markham, ON Scholastic Canada, 2001.
32 pp., cloth, $19.99.
ISBN 0-439-98725-3.

Subject Heading:
Kites-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4


I can't walk and I can't run. But I can fly.

On the morning of Basunt, the skies above Lahore are teeming with kites, like so many souls trying to reach heaven.

The "King of the Skies" is a young boy living in Lahore, Pakistan. All year he has waited for the kite festival, Basunt, which is held in early February to celebrate the arrival of spring. The boy narrates the dramatic tale of his beautiful yellow kite he names "Guddi Chore" or Kite Thief. Above the rooftops of the city, the kites battle, and the boy can cut "free" another kite with the twine of his kite which as been "sharpened" with powdered glass. All day his sister and brother scoop up fallen kites for the "King" as he is unable to walk or run. Then the boy hears a girl who has lost her kite crying below, and he lofts one his newly acquired kites down to her on the darkening city street. At the end of the day, the "King of the Skies" celebrates his triumphs with his family as he eagerly looks forward to the festival the next year.

     In this beautiful and satisfying story, Guddi Chore embodies the boy's spirit which soars with the thrills and action of the kite battles. School-age children will enjoy hearing this well-told story of sharing, determination and joy. The story's eloquence is matched by the elegant book design and luminous oil paintings by the award winning couple, Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson. The paintings present changing perspectives on the festival with views above and below the kites and the children. This approach gives a strong sense of the movement and excitement of the day. The bright kite shapes crowd and flutter across the softly colored sky and stand out because of their contrast. Each full-page colour painting faces the text placed on a tall buff colored background shape. The text page is decorated with a swash capital and decorative elements which are reminiscent of traditional manuscript design.

     This book is full of striking contrasts. It is a contemporary story structured around a traditional festival in which the flight and motion of the kites contrast with the boy's disability, and the image of the bright kites in the daytime sky later becomes a night scene of twinkling stars. Rukhsana Khan has written several other sensitive and thoughtful books, including Muslim Child: A Collection of Short Stories and Poems (Napoleon, 1999) and The Roses in My Carpets (Stoddart, 1998).

      King of the Skies is a book for all school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is the Youth Services Coordinator in the Winnipeg Public Library System.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364