- Title: The Kites are Flying
- Author: Michael Morpurgo
- Art: Laura Carlin
- Publisher: Walker Books
- ISBN: 9781406326031
Travelling to the West Bank to witness first hand what life is like for Palestinians and Jews living in the shadow of a dividing wall, journalist Max strikes up a friendship with an enigmatic Palestinian boy, Said.
When Said takes Max home, the reporter learns of the events in the family’s past and begins to understand why Said does not speak.
I was listening to Simon Mayo’s Radio 5 Live, Book Review podcast earlier this week, and this one was talked about and I immediately knew I had to read it. So after being let out of work early today I snapped up a copy on the way home. **
It follows journalist, Max, as he arrives in the West Bank to make a film about the wall that divides the Palestinians and the Jews.
His intention is not to take sides, but show what life is like on both sides of the wall and the things that bind them together not those that set them apart.
On his first day there he meets Said, a young boy in a small village on one side of the wall, who whilst he tends to his families flock of sheep, spends his free-time making a kite.
When he injures himself trying to follow Said across some rocks, he ends up spending a few days with Said’s family, getting to know them and the terrible events in their past.
I defy anybody not to be affected when we learn exactly why Said is so obsessed with making kites, despite this being a ‘children’s book’ Morpurgo does not pull any punches here. It’s a shocking event for any reader (and parents of sensitive children may want to read the book first so they’re ready to answer any questions) but it is even more disturbing, for those slightly older readers who know anything of the conflict and aren’t necessarily surprised by what happens.
The friendship that develops between Max and Said in the short time they know each other and the effect that Said’s kite making has on both sides of the wall, initially with a young girl who watches him from the other side of the wall, but later with others, does mean that story has an uplifting ending and hope for the future.
This is a brilliant thought-provoking tale, with fantastic, effective, illustrations by Laura Carlin, that perfectly suit the mood of the book. I can’t recommend the book enough.
Here’s a quote (incidentally not from the end, as it might look like):
But I’m making myself a promise, Mahmoud. I am deciding right now that when I grow up I shall make films like he does. I’ve worked it out.
If I can’t talk, then I’ll tell our story in pictures, the story of you, Mahmoud, of our village, all about our kites, and the wall and the settlement, and the girl in the blue headscarf who waves to us.
I shall tell everyone about our nightmare and our dream, and about how one day we’ll make it come true. It is my story, and the girl’s story. Together we will make it come true.
** It was totally allowed as according to buy book buying ban rules I have cleared five books of the TBR pile and thus am allowed to treat myself!