April 7, 2014


"True courage is like a kite; a contrary wind raises it higher."   

John Petit-Senn

2014 Crystal Kite Award

THE KITE THAT BRIDGED TWO NATIONS by award winning author, Alexis O'Neill stood out in a pile of books from my recent grab and go, library drive by. The title and cover illustration caught my attention and carried me back to growing up on Lake Erie and summer travels across the Niagara River into Canada. 

Whenever wind lifted off the river and sent the trees to dancing. I'd itch to fly a kite. 

I'd race to the great Niagara, plumes of mist rising from plunging water, wind licking my face.  

THE KITE THAT BRIDGED TWO NATIONS is a historical fiction picture book based on actual events and a courageous boy who had an itch to fly a kite. Alexis O'Neill tells this story with words that flow off the page and tongue. The energy and shear power produced by the Niagara River needs text and illustrations that capture the essence of its' force. The internal rhythm of the O'Neill's text placed with the sensory driven pictures of award winning illustrator, Terry Widener, capture this dramatic essence at its' core.
Homan builds his kite, Union.

THE KITE THAT BRIDGED TWO NATIONS transports the reader to a place and time when life was simple. The story takes place in 1848 when there was no bridge between Canada and the United States. A young Irish emigrant, Holman J. Walsh steps up to the challenge of a contest to flying a kite from one nation to another and then anchoring the string. The string marked the beginning of the building of a suspension bridge between the two nations. Holman's passion for building and flying kites is brought to life through the electricity between O'Neill's and Widener's work. It delivers a potent story of Holman’s courage and perseverance that brings his dream to fruition.

This picture book for older readers is a five apple book, cream of the crop. 

A story teeming with vibrant language and beautiful illustrations would be a great add to any home, classroom, or local library. The back matter and educators guide provide additional information and websites for teaching as well as directly linking to the Common Core Standards for Literacy. 

 A KITE THAT BRIDGED TWO NATIONS is published by Calkins Creek Books, imprint of Boyds Mills Press and Highlights.

THE KITE THAT BRIDGED TWO NATIONS is a great read for the month April, National Kite Month which is celebrated from March 29th – May 4th.  You can find more information at National Kite Month..

Award Winning Author, Alexis O'Neill
Alexis teaches writing for the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. She is a Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a founding member of the Children's Authors Network (CAN!). A former elementary school teacher, Alexis holds a B.S. from Skidmore College and an M.S. in Instructional Technology and Ph.D. in Teacher Education from Syracuse University.

Find out more about Alexis at her website Alexis O'Neill

You can purchase this book by ordering it from your local independent bookstore, Calkins Creek and online booksellers.


Tina Cho said...

Great review! I've heard of this book, and of course, I have her book "The Recess Queen." Can't wait to read it some day. I like how you linked this kite book with Kite Month, Diane!

Mirka Breen said...

*FANTASTIC* story. So Glad Ms. O'Neal brought it to the realm of picture books, and that you chose to highlight it on this blog.

Whoever coined the phrase "go fly a kite" didn't know the power of kites!

Nancy I. Sanders said...

Diane, I just happen to have this book right here right now in my house. It is nothing short of AWESOME!!!!! Alexis did such an amazing job telling this story. The poetic use of language, the story arc, the huge kid-appeal in this story...using a kite...A KITE to build a bridge. Wow! I loved this book so much I showed it to my teacher husband Jeff and he fell in love with it too. Alexis, this book deserves many awards for the top quality writing (and art). I think as picture book writers we should use this as our mentor text. Kudos to Alexis and way to go Diane for reviewing this.

Diane Kress Hower said...

Thanks Tina, Mirka, and Nancy and Alexis for writing and sharing this book with me. It's a winner!

Evelyn said...

Thanks for sharing about this terrific book, Diane! I 'know' Alexis mostly from the wonderful way she helps other authors with her website. Alexis, I'm excited to hear about your book. Thank you for all you do for the rest of us writers.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read this book. The illustrations look beautiful and the text rich. I'm already very familiar with the bones of this story and can't wait to read the full story. Thanks for sharing!