Author:  Stephen Messer

ISBN:  978-0-375-86195-6

Click Here To Purchase Windblowne

Young adult and middle-grade fiction have been taking over the publishing industry and I, for one, am extremely happy about this fact.  I am also happy when the books being produced aren't about vampires.  Even though the "pasty-faces" have opened the door for the wondrous books that are coming to library shelves, it is always fun (and a relief) to receive one in the mail that is not only a beautiful story, but that doesn't involve the biting of necks or sad-eyed Romeo and Juliet-'esque' storyline.

In this fantastic book, we meet Oliver.  Oliver lives in a magical community called Windblowne, where the villagers live high up in the large oaks, in treehouses that are connected by rope bridges.  Far below is Windswept Way, which is the only street in town, that runs around the mountain like a corkscrew.  The town will make all readers want to run out and live there, as the author introduces us to the Windblowne Watch.  These are the men who are retired flyers, who now spend their time lighting the oil lamps in town and managing the crowds of tourists that come to Windblowne once a year for the Festival of Kites.  The Tournament of Champions is in its 455th year, and the whole town is getting geared up for the many visitors who are on their way to watch this incredible event.

Oliver gets teased a great deal in the town of Windblowne.  His family is regarded as lunatics by his neighbors.  His mother is a sculptress who makes metal works of art that the Mayor of the town screams at her to take down, and his father spends ALL of his time sitting in his study at his desk, pen in hand, scribing huge, long, boring books that Oliver just can't understand.  His parents barely know he exists, so Oliver spends most of his time dreaming of a way he can build a kite that will be the envy of all the others in town, and learn how to jump off the mountain and fly across the earth to break the record that was set for the longest jump made years before.  Unfortunately, for Oliver, no matter how hard he tries, he just doesn't seem to possess the gift of flight, and has destroyed more than a few beautiful flying creations in his short lifetime.

One evening, his father absentmindedly mentions Oliver's great-uncle Gilbert, who was once the master kite smith in town, who stormed away forty years ago because he was an imaginative genius who got mad at the small-minded town.  Oliver is extremely excited.  THIS is the moment he's been waiting for to change his life.  A master kite smith in the family would be able to teach him how to design and fly the perfect product and put all his laughing, teasing friends to shame.  He soon finds himself walking along the magical path through the bushes and comes upon Gilbert's treehouse hidden away from all prying eyes.  Inside the falling-down structure, Oliver can see the most beautiful kites in the universe hanging from the ceiling...and a boring, plain crimson kite sitting on the workshop table.  In addition, Oliver also finds out that in another world - very close to Windblowne - lives an evil twin of great-uncle Gilbert's who likes to call himself Lord, and has been killing the mighty oaks in order to make his latest technological flying devices.  Even worse, Oliver is captured by this evil Lord and finds out that his uncle has been banished to a horrible world where Oliver must go and rescue him, in order to save the mighty oaks and his beloved town.  Soon Oliver finds out that kite flying may not be the special gift that was handed down to him; that, perhaps, his bravery in the face of danger is far more important. 

Every paragraph of this story is absolutely beautifully written.  The windswept world that Oliver lives in is almost like another Neverland, where families are drawn together, adventure is around every secret passageway, and the sky is filled with the colorful silks and bright "tails" of kites blowing in the wind.  This is top-notch middle-grade fiction!  Enjoy it!

 Click Here To Purchase Windblowne