cover image Red Kite, Blue Kite

Red Kite, Blue Kite

Ji-li Jiang, illus. by Greg Ruth. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-2753-6

Ruth (A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade) paints affecting closeups and dramatically lit spreads that ratchet up the tension as Tai Shan endures separation from his beloved father, Baba, who is imprisoned during China’s Cultural Revolution. The days when Tai Shan and Baba flew their kites joyously from the rooftop are only a memory by the time Tai Shan ends up lodging with Granny Wang. When Baba can no longer visit, he flies his blue kite from the prison camp as a signal for Tai Shan, who flies his red kite for Baba. One day, Baba’s kite doesn’t appear. “Please take me to see Baba,” Tai Shan begs Granny Wang. Ruth shows Baba in his prison uniform, wan and unshaven; he has just enough time to ask Tai Shan to wait for him before his transfer to a distant camp. While Tai Shan and Baba are happily reunited, the anguish of their ordeal—which Jiang (Red Scarf Girl) portrays with scrupulous honesty—makes this introduction to Mao’s China best suited for readers on the older end of the suggested age range. Ages 5–8. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Jan.)