Issue 34: Book Review – The Kite Festival by Leyla Torres

On Sunday morning, Fernando Flórez’s grandpa spreads out a map and asks him to close his eyes and pick out a destination at random.  By midmorning, Fernando, his parents, grandparents, and sister are in their station wagon and on the road to San Vicente.  When they arrive in the center of the little town, they see many people preparing for a kite festival.  While the Flórez family has no kite to fly, they waste no time joining in for all the fun.  Unfortunately, it’s Sunday, and the stores are closed.  By using their ingenuity – along with found objects – they successfully manage to put one together.  The real surprise is in store at the end of tha day, with no less than the mayor of San Vicente on hand to deliver it.

In Leyla Torres’ new picture book, The Kite Festival (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 2004), a family sets off on a weekend adventure to San Vicente and happens upon a fun-filled kite festival.  Based on Leyla Torres’ own chilchood experiences of taking part in kite festivals in her native country of Columbia, the book is also available in a Spanish language edition, El Festival de cometas.

This book struck home with us, following Fernando’s family as they make a kite out of everyday items like paper napkins, string, a folded travel map, and Band-Aids.  Decorated by everyone in the family, the handmade kite provides an afternoon of entertainment through an activity that emphasizes being together… Even going through the excitement of tangling and untangling lines with someone else, all while carrying a good attitude.

Young readers and their families will enjoy building their own kite by following the instructions provided at the end of the book.

Leyla Torres is the author and illustrator of several books for children, including Saturday Sanchoco/El sanchoco del sābado, which Booklist observed, “answers the call for good literature depicting the Latino culture.”

Scheduled for release this May, you should be able to order this book from your local book store, or contact Farrar, Straus, Giroux for a nearby retailer… Suggested retail is marked at $16.


Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West
New York, NY 10003