October 30, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books: The Kite Fighters

One of the great things about this 31 Days series has been the fantastic books I've randomly discovered at the library. I started just grabbing handfuls of kids' books every week at the library, mostly based on cover art and blurbs, and then looked at them in more leisure at home. Some of them ended up not being that great, but I found a few gems, like this one.

The Kite Fighters tells the story of two brothers, Young-sup and Kee-sup, who are part of a traditional 15th century Korean family. Young-sup has an especial gift for kite flying - he just senses exactly when and how to fly a kite. Kee-sup can't fly as well as Young-sup, but he's gifted at the artistry of making kites. Between them the brothers make and fly the most beautiful kites in the country, which comes to the attention of the King. He asks them to make and fly a kite for him in the New Year kite competition. They plan to have Kee-sup make the kite, and Young-sup fly it, but then their father forbids it. Because Kee-sup is the oldest, Confucian tradition dictates that Kee-sup must represent the family. 

Young-sup is angry that yet again Kee-sup gets more privileges than he does, and Kee-sup is dismayed, because he knows he can't fly a kite as well as Young-sup, and he doesn't want to upset the King. 

The way the brothers work out their dilemma, without breaking tradition or disappointing their King is sweet. They discover that they've each been jealous of the other for different reasons, and make up nicely. They also cleverly make up a new kite-flying technique in order to try to guarantee a win for the King. 

I really enjoyed The Kite Fighters, and will definitely be looking for other books by Linda Sue Park. And, I was fascinated by the Korean culture of the era - women weren't allowed to leave the house at all! Young-sup and Kee-sup's mother oversaw the household, and the ordering of supplies, but she had to send a male servant to the market to do the shopping, because women weren't allowed to handle money.

Are you familiar with Korean traditions?

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Recommended age: 8 and up

This post is day 30 of my 31 Days of Awesome Kids' Books.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.