The Kites Are Flying! ISBN: 9781406317985
Published by Walker, 2009
Two people tell this intensely moving story, each from his own viewpoint. The first is a reporter, Mr Max, who is travelling in Palestine and Israel, making a documentary of the wall and the feelings on both sides. The second person is a boy, Said, a Palestinian shepherd boy, who lives on the Palestinian side of the wall. They come together on a hillside under an olive tree, where Said is making a kite and tending his sheep. When Mr Max has an accident, Said takes him home to his family who look after him while his sprained ankle heals. Something dreadful has happened in Said's family, and the result of this is that Said has become mute. At night before he sleeps, he talks in his head to his brother, Mahmoud, and tells him all that has happened. Gradually we learn that Mahmoud has been killed by Israeli soldiers and that his death, witnessed by Said, has been the cause of Said's muteness. We also learn that the Israeli soldier cried after the accident that killed Mahmoud, but that Said's relatives are full of bitterness. Mr Max and Said become firm friends over the few days Mr Max stays with his family, and together they fly Said's latest kite. When he lets the kite go, Mr Max is astounded to see that it flies over the wall and is picked up by a girl in a wheelchair. Said has been flying kites and letting them go for two years, ever since Mahmoud's death, and on each one is printed the word Salaam, peace. He and the girl in the wheelchair seem to have some kind of understanding, and in a wonderful denoument, the children on the other side of the wall fly all the kites Said has sent them, and on them they have written Shalom. Said begins to talk again and to feel that his dream of peace may one day come true. The illustrations, some of them full two page spreads, are very special and reflect the bleakness of the wall and those who must live on either side of it. The explosion of joy at the end becomes full of colour and light. A very special story.