Expressive illustrations packed with movement catch the eye and engage the heart in this kite-themed story about loneliness, self-acceptance and growth.
A young child wants to fly a kite with the older children in town, but is told they’re too small to take part. The child joins in anyway, but their kite strings get tangled and disaster ensues. Berated and excluded, the child turns to the company of Wawa, an imaginary bird friend, who leads them to the countryside and opens their eyes to the diversity and beauty of the natural world. As Wawa plays with a flock of gulls who don’t care that their strange new friend is blue, the child realizes that it’s OK to be different. People are who they are, and whether that’s tall or small doesn’t matter. With that in mind, anything seems possible, and with the help of their grandparents, the child makes a new kite and flies it at the Kite Festival.
Cao Wenxuan grew up in rural China and is a professor of Chinese literature and children’s literature. He was the first Chinese author to receive the Hans Christian Andersen Author Award, and his poetic prose depicts honest and often melancholy moments. Flying High addresses universal issues with sensitivity and insight, and will encourage thoughtful reflection and discussion. This translation by Jake Hope and Simone-Davina Monnelly reads well aloud, and has a directness that will appeal to readers who prefer to be told how a character is feeling or what they’re learning, rather than having this suggested or inferred.
Yu Rong is a Chinese artist now living in the UK whose distinctive artwork brings vitality and zest to Cao Wenxuan’s story. Her dynamic designs feature mixed media collage, naturalistic pencil-drawn faces and a strong sense of shape and pattern, and in keeping with a story about wind, air and flight, interesting angles encourage readers to observe the action from unexpected viewpoints. Yu Rong was shortlisted for the 2023 Kate Greenaway Medal for The Visible Sounds and also illustrated the beautiful Shu Lin’s Grandpa for Otter-Barry books.