“This is a very good novel showing what it's like to get over major problems and cope with family issues. In this novel Haoyou has to cope with someone who is willing to kill his dad to marry his mom. As a result of this, his uncle (head of house) decides it is the right move for the man to marry...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“It wasn't very appealing to me. Isn't my choice in a book.”see full review » see other reviews »
“I have read 200 pages of The Kite Rider and this book has greatly impressed me. The novel is full of adventure, deceit, and family that hooks you in from the very first 10 pages. Reading Haoyou’s adventures is not only entertaining, but also educational about the customs of 13th century China. It could be a bit verbose at times but I feel that its plot and characters more than make up for it. At every step Haoyou must overcome people and obstacles that come his way and he must question whether to follow the old traditions or save his family. This exciting and suspenseful story about Haoyou's quest to save his mother and his own family is sure to keep anyone turning the pages.”Elino R wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This is a very good novel showing what it's like to get over major problems and cope with family issues. In this novel Haoyou has to cope with someone who is willing to kill his dad to marry his mom. As a result of this, his uncle (head of house) decides it is the right move for the man to marry his mom. Haoyou has issues with this and he has to then live his life fighting for not just himself, but his whole family.”caitlinwyellow wrote this review Friday, October 4, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It is a book of adventures and happy endings, which are extremely rare to find these days.”Carla wrote this review Tuesday, July 9, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It's the 13th century. Kublai Khan has conquered China, spreading the Mongolian empire from Ukraine to Korea. His epoch-making attempt to invade Japan is about to get underway—the one that will end with Kublai's army at the bottom of the Yellow Sea, thanks to a storm that will go down in Japanese memory as "Kamikaze" (divine wind). At that crucial point in history—to the Eastern world what the sinking of the Spanish Armada was to the West—Gou Haoyou is a sailor's son living in the coastal village of Dagu, downriver from the great city of Dadu (now Beijing). Haoyou's father, Gou Pei, stirs the jealousy of another sailor named Di Chou, who wants Pei's beautiful wife for his own. So, before Haoyou's horrified eyes, Chou has Pei rigged to a makeshift kite and sent aloft to "test the wind" and see whether the spirits are in favor of their ship's journey. When the kite comes down, the ship seems to have won favor... but Gou Pei, overcome by terror, is dead.
This is only the beginning of many wild rises and falls in the fortunes of young Haoyou. In order to save his mother from having to marry Di Chou, he and his cousin Mipeng—widely thought to be a medium—get the bridegroom drunk and try to "shanghai" him on board an outgoing ship. To make sure the ship sails promptly, Haoyou volunteers to serve as the wind tester, willingly subjecting himself to the ordeal that killed his father. This adventuresome act brings him to the attention of Miao Jié, the master of a circus that is headed upriver towards Dadu, Xanadu, and the court of Kublai Khan. And so Haoyou, sometime kite-maker, new-made kite-rider, becomes an act in the Jade Circus.
During the troupe's upriver journey, Haoyou, Mipeng, the Miao, and their friends encounter resistance from villagers who place no value on entertainment. They face challenges to the supreme Confucian values of obedience and submission, especially on the part of youth towards their elders and of females toward males. The deal with a greedy great-uncle who abuses his position as head of the family to get hold of money, which he would then throw away in gambling dens. They find friendship among people of an alien culture, love in defiance of family policy, fame at the cost of danger and betrayal, and courage in the face of certain death.
Haoyou's small body takes a beating in this story of a child facing incredible danger, simply to entertain crowds. His faith in the spirits of his ancestors—especially of his beloved father—is tested to the breaking point. His loyalty to family is tried by the viciousness of Uncle Bo and the competing claims to his devotion by Mipeng, Miao Jié, and his own mother. And in the midst of a disaster that nearly finishes the Khan's power, Haoyou claims the strength and cleverness to make things right for his loved ones.
This fine, colorful novel from the author of Peter Pan in Scarlet moved me on many levels. Besides the obvious emotional impact of what happens to Haoyou, and what he does about it, the book is crammed with details that show the author's deep insight into human nature. The time, place, and culture depicted here will be fascinating and exotic to most readers, while they will recognize the same familiar humanity at the heart of it all. It's nothing if it isn't an inducement to read more books by Geraldine McCaughrean, such as The Stones Are Hatching, Tamburlaine's Elephants, The Death-Defying Pepper Roux, and The Glorious Adventures of the Sunshine Queen. Click here for a more complete list. ”
“I enjoy historical fiction and reading about places I have been to or live in. Therefore choosing this book seemed a perfect match. Set in 13th century China, shortly after the Mongol invasion under Kublai Khan, a young boy is pulled into an incredible adventure. After witnessing the haunting death of his father, he gets taken in by the Jade Circus, as one of their star attractions, flying kites. With the circus, he travels from place to place, risking his life with each new flight. Eventually, word reaches the mighty Kublai Khan... So many issues get addressed in the book: the importance of children's obedience towards their parents in traditional Chinese societies, the (low) status of women, the feelings of the Chinese population towards the invaders. But ultimately, it's also a story that portrays the good and the evil in a classical way. It makes us wonder about the wickedness in some people, while giving us hope in the realization that no matter how bad a situation, there are always some people willing to risk everything for those they love. (You surely noticed that I marked it in both categories, children and YA - I think a mature fifth grader would be okay to read the book but I wouldn't recommend it to students below this grade level.) ”Tanja G wrote this review Sunday, March 17, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I gave this book 5 stars because it was very interesting, and I liked how there was a lot of action and adventure.”4 Keala wrote this review Thursday, September 20, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“It wasn't very appealing to me. Isn't my choice in a book.”4 Anela wrote this review Thursday, September 20, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“This book was very interesting and I learned a lot. There was a lot of action and suspense between the characters.”4 Maya wrote this review Thursday, September 20, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I didn't like his uncle in the book at all.”Elly wrote this review Saturday, July 7, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very interesting historical fiction during the time of Kubla Kahn in China. A young boy learns to ride on a kite, joins a circus, earns for his family, and deals with a greedy uncle. He even performs for the great Kubla Kahn. ”Stacey M wrote this review Tuesday, May 29, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No