"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen

The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen, Illus. by Ed Young, 1967,1988.

Set in ancient China, this is the the story of the emperor's tiny youngest daughter, who is generally overlooked. Although Djeow Seow is usually alone and spends much of her time playing with her kite, she is able to put her toy to good use and save her father when evil men lock him up in a tower. Her older and seemingly more important brothers and sisters mourn the emperor, but the observant child, with the advice of a kind monk, knows how to feed and eventually rescue her powerful dad. Through her loyalty, Djeow Seow wins the love and recognition that she deserves.

Ed Young won a Caldecott honor for his illustrations, which are based on a traditional Asian papercut method. They are full of detail and color. In Djeow Seow's dragon-head kite, the color gradually shifts from purple to red to hot pink. The emperor's ornate dragon embellished robes also change color, in the garment itself and from page to page, now green and gold, then pink, then red and orange. The art is beautifully balanced and the action often occurs over an entire double page spread, as when the kite soars at the top of the left side, the little girl and the monk bow to each other on the bottom right, and both images are connected by the kite's angled string.

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