Henry and the Kite Dragon
Recommended by: Jill Dempsey, Kenmore Middle School, Kenmore TA
Suitable for: Grades 2 through middle school
Why I chose it: This book is a well-written, beautifully illustrated story about a clash of cultures in New York City. The realistic characters are easy for students to relate to, and the unexpected ending really packs an emotional punch. The story centers on Henry and his love of making and flying glorious kites in the shapes of butterflies, caterpillars and dragons. This interest, which he pursues with a "grandfather" elder in his community, leads him to the center of a rivalry among groups of kids. Hall's story is based on an incident in his father's life.
How teachers can use this book: I use this book to teach about empathy, but it is also a great read for starting discussions on culture, immigration, geography, point of view, problem solving, respect and bullying. The picture book format works for many different grade levels, from second grade to middle school. The book won honors from the Jane Addams Peace Association.
What I like best: The vivid pictures in this book bring 1920s Chinatown to life, and the poignant twist at the end encourages students to look at the world a little differently.
About the author: Bruce Edward Hall's books include Tea that Burns: A Family Memoir of Chinatown and Diamond Street: The Story of the Little Town with the Big Red Light District on the illicit history of Hudson, N.Y.
About the illustrator: William Low is a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City in the undergraduate program and is a member of the United College Employees of FIT union. Find out more at www.williamlow.com.
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