Did you know that Grandpa Jim went to China over 30 years ago where he flew kites at a big international kite festival and won a trophy?
I went with the American Kitefliers delegation to the 4th Annual Weifang International Kite Festival at Shandong China in 1987. Our group was led by the legendary David Checkley (1917-1988) of Seattle, a kite enthusiast extraordinaire, who had worked with the City of Weifang in the early 1980s to establish an international event at their annual national kite flying festival and competition.
In 1987 I was the winner as “One of the Top Ten Kite Fliers in the World” award and given colorful dragon kite trophy that I donated to the World Kite Museum at Long Beach, Washington home of the Washington State International Kite Festival.
Learn more at the World Kite Museum website.
Grandpa Jim went to China in 2017 to see his grandson Jason and he got to fly kites again!
When grandson Jason was born in 2017 I decided to go back to China to see him, and I also received an invitation from Mr. Liu Zhiping, Director Weifang International Kite Festival to visit Weifang again as an “old and distinguished friend” 30 years after my first visit to Weifang.
It was exciting to visit Weifang again and bring my wife Cheryl too. In 1987 Cheryl was unable to travel with me because she was pregnant with our daughter Jenny. 30 years later in 2017 Jenny was pregnant with her first baby Emily who was born in Vancouver, Washington two months after Jason was born in Dalian, China.
Later that summer my grandchildren met for the first time when Jason and his parents arrived at Portland International Airport to spend time in the USA with family in Oregon and Washington State. Naturally we took our grandchildren to the World Kite Museum and to see kites flying at Long Beach.
Kumquat Kids is Born
Book Ideas began to fly in my mind as these connections between grandchildren, cousins, kids, kites, China and the USA. These ideas developed into the outline of the story to be written with colorful images of scenes from the world of kites. Jenny had ideas too. She suggested that grandparents be included in the story. Now we had three generations of family involved in the adventure of kites in this story.
When you need to find an illustrator ask your favorite Lama!
Jenny also knew of an illustrator who drew animals for a book written by her friend Shannon Joy. Shannon was the owner of a famous llama named Rojo whose story had been told in two books illustrated by Theresa Johnson and after all, many kites are “animals in the sky.”
Our book was beginning to take off, so I took our first draft to the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Great Critique in 2018 and received useful feedback.
Before we made revisions another family adventure took place. In the fall of 2018 Jenny and her husband Jake and baby Emily joined us for a trip to China where the cousins Emily and Jason met again. We saw kites flying at Xinhai Square in Dalian and went on “Babies first trip to the Great Wall.”
In 2018 and 2019 we worked on the Chinese translation and bilingual drafts of the book with the help of Willow Zheng who teaches Chinese at Northwest China Council, my daughter-in-law Lynn Xiaoyu Wang (Mockford) in Dalian and we received feedback of teachers at The International School of Portland’s Chinese Immersion Program. We incorporated some of their feedback into changes for this book and saved some ideas for the future.
Finally, in 2019 the book that has taken two years to develop is in publication and Jason and Emily are just the right age to have their grandparents read this story to them.