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Flying the Dragon Hardcover – July 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-7-Hiroshi's grandfather is ill and needs treatment found only in the United States, and so the family is uprooted from Japan just before the big kite competition that he and his grandfather have been working toward. Hiroshi's reluctant guide to his new life in Virginia is his cousin, Skye, who would rather play soccer than get in touch with her Japanese side. Initially at odds, she and Hiroshi find common ground in coping with their grandfather's illness and come together through the traditional art of rokkaku fighting kites. The cousins' alternating chapters capture the pain of being an outsider as Skye and Hiroshi both struggle in unfamiliar situations. Hiroshi is frustrated by his limited English and embarrassed by his childish ESL reading materials while Skye feels awkward about her all-American lunches in her Saturday Japanese classes, where everyone else brings a bento. Readers will find much to relate to in this thoughtful exploration of culture shock, a family feud, and the loss of a beloved grandparent. The prose is straightforward but evocative, using imagery such as cherry blossoms to symbolize the fleeting nature of life. Readers will rejoice in the story's triumphant ending and will come away with a surprising knowledge of rokkaku kite battles, as Lorenzi integrates Japanese language and cultural elements seamlessly into the narrative. With its broad appeal for both boys and girls, this title is a solid choice for middle grade audiences.-Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA α(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review

"A quiet, beautifully moving portrayal of a multicultural family." -Kirkus Reviews, starred review "[A] solid choice for middle grade audiences." - School Library Journal * IndieBound Kids' Summer Next List 2012 * Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List 2013-2014 * NY Public Library's - 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing * CCBC Choices 2013 * Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year * IRA Children's and Young Adult Book Awards (Intermediate Fiction Honor Book)
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 610L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580894348
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580894340
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #949,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a teacher, librarian, mother, wife and traveler. She has lived in seven US states, Germany, Italy and Japan, and traveled to more places than she can count (and she can count pretty high). Like Skye and Hiroshi, the main characters in her debut middle grade novel Flying the Dragon, Natalie knows what it's like to make a complete fool of herself in another language. That said, she highly recommends the technique of throwing yourself into a new language, even if you're not ready. Visit Natalie at www.nataliediaslorenzi.com (no passport required).

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laura Resau on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
With honesty and gentle humor, Lorenzi beautifully captures the emotions of a recently arrived Japanese immigrant boy and his bicultural American cousin. I was rooting for Hiroshi and Skye as they struggled to overcome language and culture barriers to find common ground-- their love for their grandfather and shared cultural heritage. This poignant and heart-warming story made me laugh, cry, and cheer along with the children. Young readers of all backgrounds will find plenty to relate to here-- immigrants will identify with Hiroshi's culture shock and frustration, while their peers will gain empathy, learning to value new cultural experiences. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By PDXbibliophile on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Flying the Dragon is a sweet coming-of-age story told from two perspectives. Skye is Japanese American, but has always lived a totally American life. She has never been to Japan, never met her father's Japanese family, does not speak Japanese and barely knows how to use chop sticks. When her father's family comes from Japan and moves in down the street, Skye's cousin Hiroshi complicates her life. He doesn't fit in at school, and Skye's classmates want to know why she is hanging around the strange new kid. Hiroshi is suffering culture shock. He thought being in the same class with his cousin would help him make the difficult transition, but Skye wants nothing to do with him, and he doesn't know why. Things are difficult at home, too. Hiroshi's life-long best friend is his grandfather, but now grandfather is spending more time with Skye than him. Grandfather, one of Japan's most respected kite makers and competitive kite flyers, even invites Skye to learn how to make and fly kites. In Japan Hiroshi was grandfather's apprentice and was just starting to make a name for himself with his outstanding kite fighting skills. Hiroshi is hurt by what he sees as rejection from both his cousin and his grandfather. Flying the Dragon realistically shows how the two families re-connect after many years and how Skye and Hiroshi learn to appreciate their families, their cultures and each other. The descriptions of kite fighting and kite fight competitions are fascinating. I would expect that many readers will be going on line for instructions on building and flying soon after reading this excellent story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DAC VINE VOICE on July 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Skye and Hiroshi Tsuki are cousins but they've never meet. Skye lives in the United States with her parents and loves to play soccer. Hiroshi lives in Japan with his parents and grandfather, and loves flying kites. After Skye's father married,he moved to the States, and has never been back to Japan. Skye is finally going to meet her grandfather because he's moving to Virginia to for medical treatment. Hiroshi and his parents are moving as well.

The chapters alternate between the two cousins. The author does an excellent job, transitioning from Skye to Hiroshi. The two have very distinct voices and concerns. Skye has been selected for the soccer all star team for the first time, though there's a conflict with the Japanese lessons and she might not be able to play. Hiroshi is having a difficult time adjusting to the move and learning English. One thing the two have in common is their grandfather. Hirsohi has always been very close to his grandfather. Skye feels an instant bond with his grandfather and wants to get to know him better.

Some of best scenes center around kite flying/ kite fighting, both of which run through Tsuki's blood, including Skye's even though she never touched a kite until she meets her cousin and grandfather. Many of the readers who pick up this book will be unfamiliar Kokkaku, or Japanese fighting kites and explanations could've easy bogged down the storyline. However the author gives the reader, clear, fun and visually appealing basic understanding of Kokkaku. Flying the Dragon is a very fitting title for this great debut.
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Format: Hardcover
Skye's dream is to make it onto the advanced soccer team for summer near her home in the Washington, D.C. area. Hiroshi wants nothing more than to enter his first kite-flying competition in his small town in Japan. Neither will get what's expected when Hiroshi's family moves to the U.S. for his grandfather to get a special treatment for cancer. He's never met his cousin Skye, as her father had a falling out with his family before she was born.

Skye has never thought much about her Japanese heritage. She only thinks of herself as American, and as her dad didn't force her to learn much Japanese, she can't even speak well with her foreign relatives. While Skye and Hiroshi are too polite to let on that they don't like each other, there are conflicts right away. Skye doesn't want to babysit Hiroshi at school, and he wants to make other friends too. Hiroshi has a close bond with their grandfather, and now that their time together may be limited, he doesn't want to share that time with Skye.

Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a story about family, identity, and learning to focus on what's important. As Skye gets to know her relatives from Japan, she finds herself leaving behind some of the things she thought were most important to her in the past. And Hiroshi, who is adapting to life in a new country as well as a sick relative, has to learn how to share the things and the people he loves so he can be happy in his new home.

The tale goes back and forth from Skye's perspective to Hiroshi's, and Lorenzi does an excellent job of making each character come alive. Flying the Dragon is a great book to read in mother-daughter book clubs where the girls are aged 9 to 12. Issues to discuss include cultural differences between the U.S. and Japan, family conflict, ethnic identify, grief and more. I highly recommend it.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book to review.
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