Red Kite, Blue Kite
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Red Kite, Blue Kite

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  134 ratings  ·  45 reviews

When Tai Shan and his father, Baba, fly kites from their roof and look down at the crowded city streets below, they feel free, like the kites. Baba loves telling Tai Shan stories while the kites--one red, and one blue--rise, dip, and soar together. Then, a bad time comes. People wearing red armbands shut down the schools, smash store signs, and search houses. Baba is sent...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Disney Press (first published January 22nd 2013)
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Alex Baugh
Historical fiction is one of my very favorite genres, especially when it is based on real events or people. Lately, I have been reading a lot of historical fiction picture books and I have been loving them. Not only do they introduce young children to important events or people in history, they add so much to older kids' understanding to what they may be learning/reviewing in school. Picture, especially in the hands of a skillful illustrator, can provide a detailed visualization, in the same way...more
Red Kite, Blue Kite is based on a true story: that of the author's family friend who is the little boy of Tai Shan. It is truly a testament to the beauty and resilience of the human spirit, especially when you realize that this really did happen. Greg Ruth's illustrations further add to the emotion of the story, picking up human expression and feeling where words fail. This could be the first step of a reading ladder toward books like Red Scarf Girl also by Ji-Li Liang and Revolution is Not a Di...more
L13_F Sandra
This story is set in China during the Chinese Revolution from 1966 to 1977. Tai Shan and his father, Baba, love to stand on the roof of their home and fly kites because it makes them feel free. They are alone since Tai Shan's mother died after he was born. One day some men in red armbands come to their town. They shut down schools and destroy some of the town. They also take a lot of the men to labor camps including Tai Shan's father. Tai Shan has to go live with a woman named Granny Wang near t...more
Sarah Wheeland
Red Kite, Blue Kite

Text to Text Connection: This story is a wonderful parallel to one of stories we are reading right now in our language arts book called “Happy Birthday Mr. Kang.” The story is about an old grandfather and his grandson and is a contrast between the traditions of old China and the ways of the American Chinese. The grandfather talks about missing his home and his culture but loving the freedom and safety of America. The book “Red Kite, Blue Kite” is an explanation of why so many...more
Amanda Coppedge
Beautiful, touching story about the Cultural Revolution in China, from a young child's perspective. Because of the lengthy text and young age of the main character, recommended most for one-on-one sharing with a child about ages 4-6. Could be a read-aloud for small groups who are okay with longer text. Pair with Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me to discuss dealing with the absence of a beloved father.
Full review at

Red Kite, Blue Kite takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China, when chaos reigned and families were broken up when members were sent to labour camps or labour farms or were just disappeared. Tai Shan is separated from his father, but at first it is so close that he can walk home on Sundays to share their favourite activity of kite-flying. But when that isn't possible, Tai Shan flies the kites for both of them so that they would loo...more
Red Kite, Blue Kite is a lovely story that takes place during the Cultural Revolution in China. Tai Shan loves to fly kites from the rooftop with his father, Baba. Tai Shan’s is red and Baba’s is blue.

One day, Baba is arrested: "Then, a bad time comes. My school is shut down. Soon all the schools are shut down. People wearing red armbands smash store signs and search houses. Men and women are sent to labor camps to work. Baba is one of them.”

Fortunately, Baba’s camp is not too far away, and for...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2013 Reshamad rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Children K-5
Shelves: childrens-books
I first came across this book at Non Fiction Monday event hosted by a group of children's literature bloggers. Perogyo's lovely blog featured "Red Kite Blue Kite" as a celebration for Father's Day this year. And since reading her review on the book, I have been waiting to read it myself.

"Red Kite, Blue Kite" is a story of a little boy, Tai Shan and his father, Baba and their love for flying kites. Their Red and Blue kites bob up and down, backwards and forwards. From the rooftops, the city looks...more
Book Summary: A young boy Tai Shan and his father Baba enjoy spending time together,daily, flying their kites. During the cultural revolution in China, which was a very dark time, Baba is sent to a work camp and Tai Shan is sent to live with Granny Wang. For a while Baba is able to visit his son and fly kites on weekends, but he is sent to another camp and no communication exits. In the end, Baba returns to his son and they are free to fly their kites once again.

Focus:: Characterization - Descr...more
Amy Gonzalez
Jun 10, 2013 Amy Gonzalez rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: ELA & Social Studies teachers looking for easy whole class texts to explore a historical event
In a brief note at the end, the reader is told that Ji-Li Jiang wrote this story after hearing about a family friend tell of his experiences flying kites as a way to feel connected to his father, while they were separated as a result ofThe Cultural Revolution in China. Told through the point of view of the young protagonist, Tai Shan, Jiang’s book, Red Kite, Blue Kite, uses the symbolism of kites and moody illustrations to reveal how imagination and love can inspire hope in people to rise above...more
Wendy Fontenot
Book Title: Red Kite Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang

Short description of the book: Teaches about the Cultural Revolution in China through the story of how Tia Shan and his father are able to communicate through flying their kites while the father is sent away.

FOCUS: Narrative features I would use in a mini-lesson

1) This is a great reference for how narratives can be real experiences or events.

2) Ji-li Jiang does a great job of sequencing events as he effectively sets out a problem during this time per...more
Age: K-2nd grade
Culture: China
History: Chinese Revolution

Tai Shan and his father, Baba, love to fly kites. When China's cultural revolution spreads throughout the land, Baba is taken away to a labor camp because the revolutionaries don't agree with his ideas. Tai Shan and Baba then communicate with their kites, Tai Shan on top of a hill and Baba in the camp. One day, Baba's kite does not appear. When it does not appear the next day, Tai Shan begins to worry for his father.

I love the motif of the...more
This was a touching story about a boy and his dad who are separated during the Chinese revolution when his dad is sent to a work camp. They fly kites to let each other know they are ok.
This story is written for young children, but the literary images match the beautiful artwork so that anyone who loves a good story will be pleasantly fulfiiled by this story!
This book reminded me of the book the Kite Runner and it is a sad book with a happy ending. I enjoyed this book and I felt emotionally connected to this book.
Beautiful artwork and a poignant story--good for introducing the effects of war and revolution on a family and culture. Go fly a kite!
This is a tender, and (generally) beautifully told story of a young boy and his father, who has been taken to a work camp, during the Cultural Revolution in China.
The love and bond between father and son is lovely, the kites are a beautiful physical and symbolic reminder of their bond.
What keeps this book from a fifth star is that it's vague on why the father has been taken away. I think, that the author's attempt to stay within the young Tai Shan's point of view and the confusion and uncertaint...more
This sad but ultimately triumphant story is based on the experiences of a family friend of the author's during China's Cultural Revolution. Tai Shan has a special relationship with his father and together they fly kites. Even when they are separated for reasons unknown to Tai Shan, they communicate through the kites. The illustrations are made of warm tones and gentle detail, adding to the quiet, bittersweet tone of the narrative. This book would provide a great opportunity to talk about symboli...more
Based on a true story, young Tai Shan flies a red kite every morning, and searches the skies every night to catch a glimpse of his father's blue kite, the only means they have to communicate through many seasons. The historical context of this book is a bit obscure and will require explanation, but the feelings of loneliness and fear when separated from those you love are lyrically portrayed, as well as hope for a better future. Teachers could use this book to introduce the concept of symbolism.
Debbie Tanner
I found this one a little confusing. It's about a boy and his father who love to fly kites, but suddenly the father is sent to a work camp but he can come and visit the boy on Sundays and then that stops too. It had a nice feeling about the connection to the boy and the dad. You might also be able to use this as an opener for a unit on the Chinese Revolution with bigger kids to start a list of questions because I had a lot after reading this book.
The Styling Librarian
Red Kite, Blue Kite by Ji-li Jiang, illustrated by Greg Ruth – so grateful to @loveofxena for sharing this on her beautiful blog! The title probably wouldn’t have caught my attention otherwise. What a powerful story. Unfortunately, another one that impacted my son… but in a good way. We had a conversation about how much we appreciate personal rights we have in comparison to places in the past and in the world today.
Tai Shan and his Baba fly kites together, until Baba is taken away to a work camp. While separated, they each fly a kite to remind the other they are close by. This is a subtle introduction to the Cultural Revolution, told in a gentle way with the back drop of a loving father and his son. It would be a great introduction to a study of this period in China's history. The illustrations truly bring the story alive.
Father and son use kites as a secret way to stay in touch when they are separted during the Cultural Revolution in China in the 60s and 70s. An Author's Note follows the story and explain the Cultural Revolution.

Ink and watercolor artwork perfectly matches the tone of the story and excels at presenting the various emotions the characters experience throughout the story.
Based upon a true story this look into China's Cultural Revolution, through the eyes of a young boy whose father is taken from their home to work in the labor camps, is heart-wrenching. In this incidence the outcome is hopeful. Using their love of kite flying Ji-li-Jiang writes of the bond which even governments can't break.

My full review:
Pub. date: Jan. 2013
Inspired by a friend's account of events during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. A boy is sent to live near where is father is imprisoned at a labor farm. Troubling time period in China's history--1966-76.
Tai Shan and his father fly kites, but they become separated during the Cultural Revolution in China. Through the kites they are able to speak to each other and let the other know he is being thought of.
Beautiful water color illustrations accompany the fictional account of a boy and his father during the Chinese cultural revolution who fly their kites to stay together physically or in thought
This is a good book to teach children about this historical, tragic event, but the ending kind of confused me. If I were a child, it would annoy me to be confused by a book ending.
Kim Patton
Amazing story of a young boy and his father during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. They use two kites to connect with each other when they can't physically be together. Moving story!
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Coming from Shanghai, China in 1984, where she used to be a school science teacher, author Ji-li Jiang studied in Hawaii then worked as a corporate Operations Analyst and Budgeting Director for several years. In 1992, she co-founded East West Exchange, Inc, a company created to promote and facilitate cultural and business exchanges between China and the western countries.

Ji-li’s first book, Red Sc...more
More about Ji-li Jiang...
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