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Windblowne Hardcover – May 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375861955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375861956
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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

More About the Author

Stephen Messer was born in Maine and grew up there and in lots of other places. As a child he was inspired by the desert skies of Arizona, as well as his many trips to the public library. Nowadays, he writes books for young readers. His debut novel, Windblowne (Random House 2010), is a fantasy adventure about a boy who is blown away from his mountain wind-world of treehouses and kites, and his encounters with a mad genius, mechanical hunters, a missing moon, and the secrets of the powerful night winds. Upcoming books include the dark and whimsical fantasy The Death of Yorik Mortwell (Random House 2011), featuring grotesquely delightful illustrations by the masterful Gris Grimly, and Colossus (Random House 2013), a sci-fi adventure set at the end of time.

He and his wife live in an old house in Durham, North Carolina.

He is represented by the excellent Josh Adams of Adams Literary (www.adamsliterary.com).

Visit Stephen and learn more at www.stephenmesser.com

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Oliver gets teased a great deal in the town of Windblowne.
A Very Merry Shakespeare
As flawed as he is, Oliver is a deeply endearing, heroic, and hilarious character who I couldn't help but cheer for throughout this page-turning adventure.
J. C. Bemis
Very recommended for readers in transition between middle grade and young adult, or for older readers who are still a bit of a kid at heart.
Samuel Montgomery-Blinn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Bemis on May 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the town of Windblowne, kite-flying is no hobby. It's an obsession. It's an art. It's at the core of the identity of its quirky inhabitants. People here spend all year waiting for the legendary Ye Olde Festival of Kites where they might see kites designed as enormous dragons or entire schools of silk fish or even carrier kites that passengers ride in. And then there are the fliers. These brave souls take their kites up to the crest of the mountain above Windblowne and jump, attempting to ride the fierce winds and beat a record that's stood for over fifty years.

Like everyone in Windblowne, Oliver dreams of beating that record. Too bad every kite he flies ends up in humiliating displays of destruction. Oliver is a terrible kite flier. He's an even worse kite-smith. He's also awkward and bumbling and delusional, swinging from being painfully aware of his limitations (which are many!) to being wildly over-confident of his perceived talents (which are few). He could easily be the best protagonist I've read about in years!

As flawed as he is, Oliver is a deeply endearing, heroic, and hilarious character who I couldn't help but cheer for throughout this page-turning adventure.

While Messer has many gifts as a writer--his craft is superb, his story excellently plotted, the world wildly original--what really grabbed me was the humor. Oliver is side-splitting funny. The villain Lord Gilbert (who is the evil version of Oliver's Great-uncle Gilbert in an alternate Windblowne) kept me in stitches. When this evil inventor captures Oliver, he introduces himself with: "I, of course, am Lord Gilbert, thought you may refer to me simply as `Lord,' if you wish. Although perhaps you could call me `Lord Great-uncle,' as I shall be more family to you than he ever was.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
2010 was not a great year for fantasies. Sure, there were plenty of books that contained small fantastical elements, but titles that plunged the reader into entirely different worlds with their own set of rules and understandings? Few and far between. I blame the absence of Frances Hardinge. Fortunately for everyone there was Stephen Messer's "Windblowne" to fill an otherwise gaping void. Here you have a book that takes world building to a whole new level. And Messer isn't content to build only one world, but several, not a single one anything like our own. If sentient kites and evil twins are up your kid's alley, prepare for a soaring, diving, crazed and thoroughly enjoyable ride into a place where priorities are strictly of the air-based variety.

Oliver's a pretty easy kid to figure out. Basically he just wants one thing: to be a champion kite-smith. The kind that builds brilliant kites and wins competitions with them with ease. In Windblowne, all the kids are kite crazy and Oliver's no exception. The rub? He's probably the worst kite builder (and even worse flyer) anyone has ever laid eyes on. His talents are, as they say, in other areas. So when Oliver goes to visit his potentially crackpot Great-uncle Gilbert for kite advice, he has no idea what he'll find. He certainly doesn't expect to be attacked by nasty evil kites or to watch his uncle disappear before his eyes. He doesn't expect a special red kite of his Great-uncle's design to carry him away to other worlds where there are other Olivers and Gilberts out there with very different talents and personalities. And he certainly couldn't have expected to become the only hope for all the different worlds, slowly dying thanks to one of the evil Gilberts' schemes. Oliver has talents in other areas, all right.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kent on November 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Windblowne isn't just the title of this week's book, it's the name of the fictional town in which our story takes place. Windblowne is on a mountain and the residents live in tree houses--I like to imagine Endor without the Ewoks (it wouldn't be the same). As their name implies, the winds are plentiful in Windblowne and each year the non-Ewok residents hold the Festival of Kites. There are prizes to be won for events such as distance jumps in which residents leap off a peak of the mountain and fly a distance using their kite. The survival rate is higher than you'd think, the festival provides tourism income, and the residents compete fiercely to build the best and brightest kite.

Enter Oliver, who is about as skilled with his kite as the ninja is with a stunt kite. He hasn't got a hope of placing in the festival and so he will forever be known as a loser. But, he's got a great uncle who was a former champion kitesmith, who his parents have never mentioned before because they're "crackpots." Great-uncle Gilbert is a bit of a crackpot himself and Oliver worries over his own sanity, which is a point of some importance as the story continues.

Messer never quite comes out and says "here is the deal with Windblowne," and I really admire that choice. Windblowne is not a real place, of course, and there are some almost magical qualities about it that Messer reveals only as they become relevant to the story. There is no chapter detailing that Windblowne exists on another planet or is the home of a magical tribe forgotten by history, only subtle and some not so subtle hints along the way as to what sort of place Windblowne is. For example, Messer nonchalantly drops in lines like, "The two moons gleamed beyond." Two moons? Gory, what sort of place is this?
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