From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—Oliver lives in the oak trees in Windblowne, a place of two moons, with his preoccupied, distant parents. The 455th annual midsummer kite-flying festival is approaching, and he would love to win, but he is unable to keep any kite in the air. He seeks out his Great-uncle Gilbert, a former champion, for help, only to see Gilbert vanish after being attacked by anthropomorphic, bladed fighting kites. With the guidance of the one simple red kite left behind, Oliver sets off to find the man. His quest takes him through time to several different Windblownes, where he meets his alter ego as well as his great-uncle's, an evil despot named Lord Gilbert. The oaks, the one constant in the perhaps thousands of different Windblowne worlds, are dying due to Lord Gilbert's using machines and wire to extricate power that will fuel time travel. His intent is to rule all the worlds and he has banished Great-uncle Gilbert to hell-world. Messer's allegorical fantasy is imaginative and contains a strong ecological message as well as the worthy theme of the importance of finding one's own unique talent. However, few characters are fully developed; too many pages are turned before what's happening is revealed; too many plot threads are left hanging, too much is left unexplained; and, despite the strong winds of Windblowne, the pace is plodding. Only very competent readers, indeed, will sort through the confusion of the worlds of Windblowne.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
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With easy, unforced writing, this stand-alone fantasy unfurls in the kitecentric Windblowne, a town where people live in tree houses and gale forces blow. Ostracized and lonely, Oliver loves building and flying kites, but he isn't very good at it. On the advice of his distracted parents, he sets off to find his heretofore unknown great-uncle Gilbert, a champion kitesmith and something of an Obi-Wan Kenobi character. Oliver soon discovers that Gilbert is waging a battle against evil forces set upon imprisoning him in a hell-world. Eventually, Oliver must rescue his relative and is aided by a wise and trusty kite that leads him through parallel worlds, including one in which Oliver discovers his doppelgänger, who possesses his desired kite skills but is enslaved by an evil, power-hungry lord, also called Gilbert. Although some plot elements and character motivations are undeveloped, the settings are just rich enough to support the action. Oliver's growing determination, strength, and awareness that he does, indeed, have his own special talents—and the ability to save the day—make him and his adventure very likable. Grades 4-7. --Andrew Medlar