Eleven-year-old Ian and his father, a Vietnam veteran, have been homeless for several years. Now his father has found the perfect place for them, the vast, old, now unused city courthouse. As a historic monument, it is kept heated and has lots of bathrooms and a variety of exits, and entrances. Then Ian's father fails to return one night, and Ian discovers that a local museum is going to put on a six-week exhibit of kites from around the world in one of the largest courtrooms. As the kites arrive and the exhibit is mounted, Ian is increasingly fascinated by what he sees when no one is there and what he overhears. The kites are beautiful -- extraordinary, imaginative, and varied. Because he reads all the books on kites that are there, Ian becomes quite an expert. At length he bluffs his way into being accepted as a very bright and knowledgeable boy who can, when the exhibit opens, take groups of schoolchildren around. Ian's precarious survival on his own, following all the precautions his father has taught him, makes absorbing reading in this highly unusual, realistic story of a closely knit, remarkably independent father and son by the author of the 1996 Newbery Honor winner, Yolonda's Genius.

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