Learning to cope with letting go.
Once there was a boy who lived all alone on a hill. Then one day, he found a kite, and everything changed.
As with most children’s books, Adia Tay’s What if the Wind Tears My Kite? is a metaphor for a much bigger message hidden behind the colourful illustrations and seemingly simple story. It’s quite clear from the beginning that the boy is some kind of hermit, all bundled up in his blanket even when venturing outdoors, and incredibly shy, spooked even by the harmless birds flying overhead.
Things change however, when he encounters a rather plain looking kite, nursing it back to health from a tear in its body, and the two quickly become best of friends. There is an incredible sense of wonder as the two climb atop trees, and dash under the light of a gloomy moon.
The problem arises when it becomes apparent the kite feels cooped up at home, and like a wild animal kept in captivity, needs to fly free in the sky. Letting go is never easy, and his wide-eyed joy tightens into a scrunched up line when in tears, as he lets his best friend fly high into the sky, desperately chasing after it. As silly as the context seems, it’s a dramatic moment that can fill readers with emotion in a single page.
The joy of Adia Tay’s book really lies in how rich the illustrations are, combining 3D materials and paint to create a unique texture across both characters and landscapes. The outside world is richly detailed, with trees with massive trunks towering past the pages’ limits, while pink and green leaves adorn the landscapes, making it feel like a fantasy world outside our own. Adia also has a sense of humour – when the boy eventually goes missing in search of his kite, he is found huddled in a pile of leaves by unsuspecting NS men in camo and uniform.
In the book’s ending, the boy finally learns to be independent, as he ventures out of his shell after mourning, and starts afresh. If anything, What If The Wind Tears My Kite? is a wholly original tale that never goes where you expect it to, transporting readers to a colourful world before leaving them with a poignant lesson on love, loss, and recovery.
Recommended for: Early readers who could stand to learn to be brave in the face of loss.
What If The Wind Tears My Kite? is published by Epigram and available here