There are some picture books I return to, time and again, whose details I can see with my eyes shut, whose words I can hear. Listening doubles the pleasure of reading, and if you can hear the voices of different characters as you read, imagine if it is soft or rough, quiet or serious, you get closer to them. Great stories carry you so close, that you become the invisible insider who was there all along, not after the story was written, but as it was being created.
Ever since I read A Kite Called Korika, I’ve been thinking about it. Every single day. I close my eyes and there are so many things I can see...
I can see the field in which Yella’s parents work, where it is warm, but a cool wind moves through the crops now and then. When Yella hugs his knees close and sits next to the fruitseller, I can see the peepal leaves that have fallen down next to him, I can see the overripe fruits in her basket, I can see Yella’s eyes as he looks up at the sky – just a moment before he discovers that it’s – a kite! – that’s floating up above.
I can see Malla, wanting everything his big brother has, so good-naturedly that you would want to hug him all the time (if you weren’t Yella, that is!) and I can hear the rustling noise Korika makes when Yella stuffs him inside the hay, so Malla doesn’t find out. And when he falls ill, I can feel Malla’s chest, how warm it is…
Why is this an unforgettable book?
Is it the pictures that make the reader dream with and for Yella and Malla and delicately capture the bond between the brothers?
The unassuming narrative which tenderly portrays how children can be both intensely vulnerable and tremendously strong, often without knowing it?
The relief and hope the fulfillment of a dream can bring, which is such a reward in itself, that it doesn’t matter who knows if it came true or not?
It is all of these and much more.