cover image The Little Blue Kite

The Little Blue Kite

Mark Z. Danielewski. Pantheon, $25.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4769-5

This adult picture book aspires to strike inspiration as an all-ages fable in the mold of The Little Prince or The Giving Tree, but like many other attempted followers of this formula, it falls flat. Kai, a curly-haired boy in a yellow shirt, is given a blue kite by a teacher and told to fly it “when you’re ready.” He spends the rest of the book building up the courage to fly the kite into the Murk, a depressing smog that surrounds his undefined world. Danielewski, who made his name with the postmodern horror novel House of Leaves and has spent recent years working on a series of 27 interconnected novels, fills this short text with positive messages about self-assurance, kindness, fighting depression, and cultivating “gentle thoughts.” But they come off as more cloying than enlightening, and the climactic moral doesn’t seem particularly connected to the rest of the story. Danielewski plays with typography and continues a favorite stylistic quirk: printing important words and phrases in colored text. The art by Gonzales, who only receives credit on a back page, is oddly amateurish, with ugly human figures pasted on top of computer-generated skies. The good intentions are overwhelmed by poor craftsmanship and awkward storytelling. [em](Nov.) [/em]