Kite (Puffin Teenage Fiction)

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9780141300412: Kite (Puffin Teenage Fiction)

This is the story of a Kite, hand reared in secret by a young boy, Taylor, after an egg-hunting mission goes wrong and the mother bird abandons her nest. Not everyone wants to protect the Kite - Taylor's gamekeeper father and his employer see kites as predators on their pheasants, as vermin to be destroyed. The story reaches a dramatic climax as Tom, Taylor's father, knows he will lose his job and his home, if he fails to carry out his boss' wishes and kill the bird. He does intervene and stophis boss shooting the bird he has already cruelly injured. Tom regains his son's respect but the Kite will never fly again.

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Review:

Imagine being a boy who collects birds' eggs, and discovering that an extremely rare and endangered red kite is nesting in the woods by your own house! This is just the beginning of Taylor's story. The kite is "vermin," as far as malevolent landowner Mr. Harris is concerned, and he wants Taylor to destroy its eggs. The plot thickens, as Taylor battles his warring feelings of loyalty to his father, who must do his job to protect Mr. Harris's pheasants; respect for the beautiful bird; and desire to own the precious egg. When, through a tragedy of errors, a kite chick hatches, Taylor's feelings become even more confused.

This gripping tale is not for the faint of heart. As an environmental message, it is graphically convincing. Baby crows are dropped from the top of a tree and squashed into a pulp, lumpy kite embryos are killed and blown through pinholes in eggs, and a living adult kite is virtually crucified with a nail through her foot. Melvin Burgess's story is compelling, but his writing is surprisingly disappointing. Awkward at times with some pretty unconvincing dialogue, it's hard to imagine how Burgess slipped, especially when Kite is compared to his Carnegie Medal-winning Smack. Still, if one can get beyond the occasional clumsiness in style, it's a fascinating depiction of the British tradition of game keeping for organized "hunts," which more closely resemble slaughter. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter

About the Author:

Melvin Burgess, born in London in 1954, began to train as a journalist and has had a variety of jobs as diverse as bricklaying and silk-screen printing. An Enterprise Allowance Scheme gave him the chance to develop his writing and his children's books are now highly regarded. Melvin won the 1997 Guardian Children's Fiction Award and the Carnegie Medal for his powerful novel, JUNK. He now lives in Manchester.

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