Flying the Dragon

Book Review

School Library Journal:
LORENZI, Natalie Dias. Flying the Dragon. 234p. CIP. Charlesbridge. 2012. RTE $16.95. ISBN 978-1-58089-434-0. LC 2011033620.

Gr 5-7–Hiroshi’s grandfather is ill and needs treatment found only in the United States, and so the family is uprooted from Japan just before the big kite competition that he and his grandfather have been working toward. Hiroshi’s reluctant guide to his new life in Virginia is his cousin, Skye, who would rather play soccer than get in touch with her Japanese side. Initially at odds, she and Hiroshi find common ground in coping with their grandfather’s illness and come together through the traditional art of rokkaku fighting kites. The cousins’ alternating chapters capture the pain of being an outsider as Skye and Hiroshi both struggle in unfamiliar situations. Hiroshi is frustrated by his limited English and embarrassed by his childish ESL reading materials while Skye feels awkward about her all-American lunches in her Saturday Japanese classes, where everyone else brings a bento. Readers will find much to relate to in this thoughtful exploration of culture shock, a family feud, and the loss of a beloved grandparent. The prose is straightforward but evocative, using imagery such as cherry blossoms to symbolize the fleeting nature of life. Readers will rejoice in the story’s triumphant ending and will come away with a surprising knowledge of rokkaku kite battles, as Lorenzi integrates Japanese language and cultural elements seamlessly into the narrative. With its broad appeal for both boys and girls, this title is a solid choice for middle grade audiences.–Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

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