McCaughrean, Geraldine. (2001). The Kite Rider. New York: Harper Collins.
Textbook: Chapter 6
Possible Curriculum Connections: Chinese Culture; Circus; Middle School Language Arts
The Kite Rider is an adventure book about Chinese twelve year old Haoyou and his family. At the beginning of the novel, Haoyou witnesses his father's death as he was forced to fly on a kite to check the wind as punishment for his disrespectful behavior. Shocked and saddened by his father's death, Haoyou begins to make kites himself, and eventually builds a kite in which he can fly on. Word gets around about his talents at flying, and the leader of the Jade Circus makes a contract to have him fly in his circus as "Sun Sparrow." Come to find out, the leader of the circus was actually on a quest to assasinate the Khan, who was a great leader in China. Haoyou survived many different quests in this novel, and in the end, he saves his mother and sister from a life of servitude at a drinking house. Haoyou is blind in one eye due to a great fall he has on one of his quests, but he considers that to be a small price to pay for all of his adventures and quests. He, his mother, and sister all escape.
Personal Reaction/ Why Teens Would Not Want to Read this Book:
Personally, I thought this novel was difficult to read and follow. The plot was interesting, but the Chinese names and language made it confusing. There were a lot of details that bogged down the flow of the book, but I know that is simply a style choice by the author. I did enjoy the story line of the boy who goes on a quest and flies in kites through the sky, but overall, the novel was not my favorite. I do not think that teens would particularly enjoy this novel. Since the language is difficult and unfamiliar, I think the novel might frustrate the young adult reader. It is also a fairly long book and the plot is a little slow in the beginning, so many readers may give up on the book before they make it all the way through it!