cover image Moonlight Kite

Moonlight Kite

Helen E. Buckley. HarperCollins, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10931-8

Brothers Andre, Blaise and Carlos, the last inhabitants of a once-busy monastery, have taken a vow of silence, and they find themselves missing ""the laughter of the children."" One day, a boy and girl crash-land their orange kite in a tree near the monastery, which the villagers presume vacant. That night, the monks retrieve the kite, set it aloft, and ""taking turns, were once more the small boys they used to be."" When the children return, they suspect that someone has been flying their kite--and they become certain when Brother Carlos leaves them a new blue kite in another tree. Buckley (Grandmother and I; Grandfather and I) conveys the monks' wistfulness, although she never explains why they hide from the villagers. Primavera (Woe Is Moe; Jack, Skinny Bones, and the Golden Pancakes) enlivens Buckley's nostalgic mood with peppy vignettes of the monks' own childhoods, and downplays the monastery's lonely gloom with sprays of spring-green grass and fuchsia wildflowers. Sunlight, drawn in chalky and blended layers of pastel, streams in the arched windows; the gold kite glows against the dark-blue night sky. She transmutes the peculiarities of the premise into an airborne whimsy. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)