by Geraldine McCaughrean | Grades: 6-8 | Lexile 910 | Reading Level 6.5
The Great Miao, master of the Jade Circus, offers twelve-year-old Haoyou the amazing chance to change his life--to escape from his family's poverty and the pain of his father's recent death--by becoming a kite rider!
Strapped onto a beautiful scarlet-and-gold kite, Haoyou is sent into the sky to soar perilously among the clouds and entertain awestruck crowds below. Traveling the Empire with the circus, Haoyou earns freedom, money, and unexpected fame as he skillfully performs for local villagers who believe he can bring back messages from lost loved ones whose spirits haunt the sky.
The Great Miao even plans for the boy to perform before the Mongol conqueror Kublai Khan himself! But what if the Miao isn't all that he seems? And can Haoyou really leave behind all the duties that bind him to the ground--his family and especially his widowed mother--for good?
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