- Age Range: 7 - 10 years
- Grade Level: 2 - 5
- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (June 7, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 054732863X
- ISBN-13: 978-0547328638
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Kite Fighters Paperback – June 7, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Tradition and family loyalty come into question in this book by the recently named Newbery Medalist, set in Seoul, Korea, in 1473. Two brothers anticipate the annual New Year's Kite competition, wondering how to balance convention and love for one's talent. Ages 9-12.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-When Young-sup holds a kite in his hand, he knows exactly how to make it fly. His older brother, Kee-sup, struggles to launch his kite, but he knows exactly how to construct one that is beautiful in form and perfectly balanced. One day, the young king of Korea suddenly arrives with all of his attendants on the hillside where the brothers are playing with their matching tiger kites. He requests their help in learning to fly one, and then asks Kee-sup to make a kite for him. The boy is deeply honored and works diligently on it, a dragon flecked with real gold paint. Meanwhile, Young-sup is determined to win the kite-fighting competition at the New Year's festival. He practices on the hillside where the king frequently joins him, and their growing friendship leads to an interesting collaboration and a thorny challenge to tradition in Korea in 1473. The final contest, in which Young-sup flies for the king, is riveting. Though the story is set in medieval times, the brothers have many of the same issues facing siblings today. They play and argue, they compete for their father's attention, and eventually develop a greater understanding of one another. The author has drawn her characters with a sure touch, creating two very different boys struggling to figure out who they are. With ease and grace, Park brings these long-ago children to life.
Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
While Seesaw Girl was about the role of women and a Single Shard was about the importance of families and class, Kite Fighters is about the power dynamics within the traditional Korean family. Kee-sup and Young-sup are the sons of a bureaucrat in medieval Korea. Because Kee-sup is the oldest son, he is expected to study hard and take the civil service examination required for important bureaucratic positions. Young-sup is the second son. He is neither expected nor encouraged to sit for the examination. While Kee-sup is methodical and artistic, Young-sup is daring, instinctive and enjoys a challenge. Because of their personalities, Kee-sup is able to make it through his studies, but Young-sup is the one with the true passion for learning.
Kee-sup's passion is in building things, and thus while he has little skill flying a kite, he can make one perfectly. Young-sup lacks the attention to detail required to build a great kite, but he knows automatically how to fly one.
Although the brothers' relationship is fraught with some tension, they are able to work together to construct and fly their kite so well that they draw the attention of the boy-king of Korea. Although supposedly all-powerful, the boys immediately recognize both the loneliness and burdens the king feels. They are then honored and touched when the king asks them to fly a kite for him during the annual kite festival, which he cannot participate in. The description of the festival is rich in detail, but not tiresome, and while the reader can guess the outcome, the author successfully and even somewhat suspensefully draws it out.
Although Young-sup is the primary voice of the story, the author shows that both brothers should have our sympathy. While tradition requires Young-sup to work that much harder for any recognition from his father, it demands that Kee-sup take a path which he agrees to but is not entirely cut out for. While Young-sup resents his brother's privileges and Kee-sup envies his brother's freedom, it is obvious that the two depend on each other for their happiness.
Park also drops a few references to the examination system which dominated Korean society for hundreds of years and is in large part responsible for the importance of education in modern Korea. While selections for civil service jobs are supposed to be made on the basis of merit- or the results of the exam- it is known even to these young boys that who you know can still be very important in securing a good job. One must wonder how that cynical knowledge mingled with the strict lessons in Confucian values about honor for children in this culture.
I have used this book many times when teaching Korean history to preteens to illustrate Korean history. I recommend that anyone who wants to approach this period with children nine and up explore this and Park's other books.
And, I learned a lot about the sport of kite flying. I never even realized there was so much involved in the constructing of kites and that kite flying can be very competitive.
A good book to read and share with the young readers in your life.