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The Kite Rider Hardcover – June 18, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With her exuberant, nonstop plotting and supremely colorful setting, McCaughrean (The Stones Are Hatching) grabs hold of readers' imaginations and doesn't let go. In 13th-century China, a 12-year-old boy prepares to say goodbye to his father, who is about to put to sea as a crew member of the Chabi, and to watch the testing of the wind, which involves strapping a man to a huge kite and seeing if it flies straight up (a good omen for the Chabi's voyage) or at a certain angle (foretelling danger). But almost before Haoyou knows what is happening, the first mate makes his father the wind-tester, and Haoyou looks on in horror as his father becomes a speck in the distant sky, then returns, lifeless, to earth. All this McCaughrean accomplishes in less than 10 pages, establishing a breakneck pace, which she maintains with seeming ease. The story takes Haoyou from his determined efforts to prevent the evil first mate from marrying his beautiful mother to his joining a traveling circus as a kite rider, mastering his father's tragedy as he himself flies skyward into what the circus-goers take to be the spirit world. Eventually the circus reaches the court of the Kublai Khan, evoked here in splendor and awe. While Haoyou never becomes as compelling a character as those around him a spirit medium cousin, the circus master, Kublai Khan McCaughrean offers more than enough adventure, plot twists and exotic scenery to keep the audience fully engrossed. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9-In 1281, the Chinese lived under a foreign emperor, Kublai Khan, whose nomadic Mongol warriors had just toppled the glorious Sung Dynasty. The pageant of changing dynasties is an epic backdrop for the story of 12-year-old Haoyou. After watching his father die, the boy must fend for himself and protect his widowed mother from their greedy, overbearing uncle and a suitor responsible for his father's death. With his cousin Mipeng, Haoyou joins a traveling circus headed by the mysterious, charismatic Miao Jie. The cousins create a popular and profitable act as Haoyou, strapped to the crossbars of a kite, rides the winds high in the sky, where, gullible villagers believe, he can speak to spirits. Written in a rich vocabulary saturated with metaphor, McCaughrean's account of Haoyou's journey from innocence to experience is driven by a plot that sweeps readers along like the famous kamikaze wind that nearly kills the boy and destroys a fleet sent by Kublai Khan to invade Japan. Readers ride the winds with Haoyou, thanks to the author's vivid, realistic re-creation of his thrilling but terrifying flights. Her deliberate, shifting focus straddles insider and outsider, Mongol and Chinese, earth and sky, and life and death. Ultimately, the characters transcend all boundaries as their common humanity touches readers' hearts.
Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (June 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066238749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066238746
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

It's 30 years now since I first got published, and 50 since I found out how writing let me step outside my little, everyday world and go wherever I chose - way back in Time, to far distant shores, towards my own, home-made happy ending. Not that all my books are an easy ride. I write adventure, first and foremost, because that's what I enjoyed reading as a child. But since I have published over 150 books now, there are all manner of books in among that number - gorgeously illustated picture books, easy readers, prize winners, teenage books and five adult novels.
The White Darkness won the Printz Award in the USA, which, for as Englishwoman, was the most amazing, startling thrill.
Then there was Peter Pan in Scarlet - official sequel to J M Barrie's Peter Pan, written on behalf of Great Ormond Street Hopsital for Sick Children. I won the chance to write that in a worldwide competition, and because Peter Pan is loved everywhere, my book sold worldwide too. I can't say I expected that when, as a child, I dreamed of being like my older brother and getting a book published one day.
These days I have a husband (who's good at continuity and spelling) and a daughter who is an excellent editor. But she's at the Royal Academy of Dramtic Art now, studying to become an actor. So, naturally, I have turned my hand to writing plays. (So many actors, so few plays!)
My Mum told me, "Never boil your cabbages twice, dear," which was her way of saying, "Don't repeat yourself." So I have tried never to write the same book twice. You'll find all my novels quite different from one another. I have also done lots of retellings of myth, legend, folk and fairy tales, and adapted indigestible classics such as El Cid, the Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, Moby Dick, Shakespeare and the Pilgrim's Progress.
Something for everyone, you see, my dear young, not-so-young, eccentric, middle-of-the-road, poetical, sad, cheerful, timid or reckless reader.
All they have in common is that they all contain words. If you are allergic to words, you'd best not open the covers.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on October 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
So, who's worse--the guy who kills your father and then burns up your house and livelihood in order to get his paws on your beautiful mother, or the great uncle who is doing his best to sell off that beautiful mother to the killer? And what has Kublai Kahn got to do with this historic adventure story that poses the question to teenagers--What if you are taught to always obey your relatives and those relatives make the Dursleys look like Ozzy and Harriet?
Haoyou is the boy living this nightmare, adrift in a sea of tradition, obedience, and superstition, who takes the daring gamble of offering himself as a wind tester:
"...Again the crew tugged on the rope, to tilt it back into the face of the wind. Haoyou's head cracked against the matting, and the rope handles burned the skin off his palms. He could hear the fibers of the rope creaking under the strain, his ribs bending inward where the harness crossed his chest. Perhaps his kite would burst apart. Perhaps there would be no air at all to breathe at the top of the sky"
The key to this riveting story set in thirteenth century Cathay (China) is a strong, cunning, heroic female character--a distant relative named Mipeng. I was continually touched and astounded by her bravery and intelligence as well as her friendship and support of Haoyou. She is fiercely determined to strip that blindfold of obedience from his eyes.
"And all at once, as if fear were a cloud layer through which he had risen, Haoyou looked about him and saw the whole world beneath him. And it was his. Like a sliver shield daubed with blue and green, it throbbed, convex, complex, beautiful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alex Warofka on May 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Unlike most stories where the hero faces one evil person or group, The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean pits the hero, Haoyou, against two unassociated malevolent individuals. This exciting story takes place in 13th century China, where Di Chou, a sailor, kills Haoyou's father in the hopes of marrying his wife, Qing'an, and sets fire to Haoyou's house. At this point, Haoyou and his mother move into Haoyou's great uncle Bo's house. Bo forces Haoyou's mother to work in a drinking house, locked up in the cellar and away from sunlight for months at a time to pay for his gambling addiction.
Haoyou and his cousin, Mipeng, set out to stop Di Chou by sending him and his evil plans on a sea voyage. However, Haoyou must bribe the ship's crew to get them to take Di Chou on board. He agrees to be a wind tester - a dangerous job where Haoyou is strapped to a kite and propelled upwards into the wind to test to see if the ship's voyage will be successful.
Haoyou wanted so much for his mother to be saved from the man who killed his father that he found the courage to risk his own life. After a man in the crowd sees Haoyou's skill as a wind tester, he approaches Haoyou's great-uncle Bo to ask that Haoyou join the circus. Bo gives Haoyou and Mipeng to the circus in the hopes of them earning money for him to gamble away.
When Haoyou and Mipeng begin to earn money in the circus, Haoyou's uncle Bo is there, ready to take it away from them. Haoyou faces a difficult decision - should he be obedient and respect his elders as is correct in 13th century China, or go against everything he has been taught and save the money for his mother and himself?
This exciting and suspensful story about Haoyou's quest to save his mother from Di Chou and his own family is sure to keep you turning page after page.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 3, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Kite Rider is a story about a boy, Haoyou, who goes through the pain of seeing his father die. Haoyou went to see his father off of the harbor and watched in horror as his father was put on the kite tester. His father died in the air. The man who killed Haoyou's father wanted to marry his mother. Haoyou's great uncle, Bo approved so Haoyou and his cousin Miping put him aboard a ship that was set to sail. Later that day in the house of his great uncle, the Great Miao master of the Jade circus, offers Haoyou the chance to become a kite rider. Bo agreed that it would be a great way to earn money. Haoyou had no say in the matter and said he would only go if Miping could come with him. The Miao agreed so they went to travel with the Jade circus. They have many adventures and find out the Miao's great secret. Haoyou even got to perform in front of Kublai Khan himself.

Haoyou has much talent he makes kites for a living to support his mother and sister after his father died. He stays calm when others would be panicking he trusts the spirits of his ancestors to take care of him when he is up in the air. It takes Haoyou time to understand some things he is slow of mind. He is always thinking, which his uncle says is bad, and gets himself and his cousin into trouble more than once.

Personally I liked this book it is full of adventure and customs I have never heard of. This is a book that can teach you something not only is for fun reading. It is also my opinion that you could read this book over and over again and learn something new each time. Yes I would recommend this book to my friends.
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