Title: Kite to Freedom
Author: Kathleen A. Dinan
Major Themes: Niagara Falls, New York, Bridges, Suspension Bridges, Underground Railroad, Slavery
Synopsis: One of the many things that Katie and Homan did together in their home town beside Niagara Falls was to fly a kite across the gorge to pave the way for a new suspension bridge.
I remember reading or hearing a story when I was a little girl, many many years ago, about how, when a bridge was needed over a particular river, the first step in building it was to fly a kite across, then pull a rope over, and from there, pull over cables until eventually the bridge could be built. When I came across Kite to Freedom and read the description of it, I recognized that story. I read this book to my children, and we all found it quite interesting.
Katie’s father worked in Homan’s father’s grocery store, and after the children had their chores done for the day, they would spend time together. Homan’s dog Ella always went along as they explored among the rocks by the river near Niagara Falls. Sometimes they watched the people coming and going from The Cataract House, a huge hotel, and one day they saw something they could not understand: A young black woman ran away from the hotel, jumped into a boat, and was rowed away across the river.
A group of engineers was trying to figure out how to build a bridge across the Niagara River. Because the gorge was 761 feet wide and 200 feet deep at the place they wanted the bridge, they could not figure out how to span it. Then, someone had a bright idea: Announce a kite-flying contest, with a prize for the person who can fly a kite all the way across the gorge! Katie and Homan wanted that prize, and they immediately set to work to build the best kite they had ever used. How could they fly a kite in a snowstorm, though?
Kite to Freedom has several main themes. The kite-flying contest, of course, is the most exciting part of the story, but we also got to learn how the Niagara Falls Suspension bridge was built. Another main theme was the Underground Railroad, as Katie saw unusual and unexplained things happening at times through the years.
I asked my 6-year-old what she thought of this book. She said, “It’s good!” I asked her what she liked best, and she said, “The kite-flying contest.” My 9-year-old like the parts about freeing slaves best. This is a great book for children, one that I would love to have on our shelf in print.
I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: In Chapter 3 Katie says, “Oh my gosh.” In Chapter 5, Katie lied.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12