Monday, March 16, 2015

Donkey's Kite

In the second entry of author and illustrator Liana-Melissa Allen’s Horse Valley Adventure series, Donkey’s Kite, the horses brothers Jack, Max, and Lax, along with their friend Donkey, decide to make kites, although Donkey struggles in getting his to function properly, ultimately receiving help from a goose named Gusty. The first sequel uses an illustrative style similar to its predecessor, The Three Little Horses and the Big Bully Donkey, evidenced by its cover art, which depicts Donkey flying his kite as the equine siblings look on, the goose appearing to aid him by flapping her wings to create an artificial wind gust, the unidentified bluebird from the first book looking on too.

The first illustration in the book, appearing after the copyright information, depicts Max, the light brown and blue-vested horse, reading a book out loud while his brothers and Donkey look on, their television in a wastebasket. The story itself commences on a cool day in March in Horse Valley, setting of the first book, when equines from the area plan to attend Meadow Park with homemade kites. The initial illustration within the narrative text shows Max, without his hat, looking out of his home through the top half of its entrance door, the abode itself near the woods, with small rabbits and birds in the image as well.

The horses and  Donkey proceed to assemble their kites, the next image showing them doing so, with Jack painting his, Lax eying his light blue kite, Max cutting string, and their asinine friend seeming to have trouble with his kite’s wooden crossbar. Whereas the horses gloat about their kites, Donkey laments his creation, their feelings evidenced by the subsequent artwork as they hold their kites. Then they head to Horse Meadow Park, the following piece showing them en route, Donkey’s nose tickled by the tail of Lax’s kite, Max looking hungry while holding their food-filled basket, and Jack looking confident with his pretty kite.

The following illustration shows the horse brothers and Donkey, while Max seeks to satisfy his hunger, testing their kites, with Jack and Lax succeeding but Donkey’s crumpled yellow kite struggling, failing to get it to fly despite his strongest attempts. The next image shows Donkey’s continued lack of success while a rabbit runs away and the unidentified bluebird looks on from the air. As depicted in the following piece, Donkey tries to get his kite to fly from the height of a tree, again failing while the rabbit looks out from behind the tree and the bluebird looks on from the ground.

Kicking the kite fails to get it to fly, as well, the subsequent illustration showing Donkey in the middle of his kick while the rabbit looks on from behind a nearby rock and the bluebird refusing to see his continued failure. He therefore seeks help from the horse siblings, but they’re too busy to assist him, indicated by the following artwork that shows Jack and Lax standing with their kites in hand, the former touching up his with paint and the latter bragging about his to another unnamed equine and a pink-ribboned mare, Max continuing to stuff himself while not at the moment flying his own kite.

The next illustration shows Donkey sadly walking away from his equine friends while the bluebird follows, and ultimately encounters a charging goose in the next picture that seems irate to encounter him, a sign in the background indicating no trespassing and that the area is for geese only, the rabbit looking on from behind a nearby bush and the bluebird hovering above Donkey. The goose mocks Donkey, making him reflect upon his tenure as a bully in the previous book, the next picture showing the goose holding sticks upon his head in mock imitation of asinine ears, while other geese in the lake laugh as well, Donkey looking sad and the nameless bluebird seeming angry.

Another goose interrupts her brethren’s mockery, indicated by the next illustration depicting her surfing above the lake water with the others fleeing the scene, the story introducing the new arrival as Gusty, who admonishes her fellow geese for mocking Donkey, a charge they deny. The following image depicts Donkey alongside the first unnamed monochrome goose, with Gusty politely conversing from the lake’s edge. Donkey explains his situation, with Gusty mentioning that she’s naturally adept at flying, the subsequent picture showing a still-sad Donkey conversing with Gusty while the unidentified monochrome goose angrily evacuates the scene.

The goose notes that Donkey’s kite can fly with the right changes, an illustration showing Gusty examining it while Donkey and the bluebird look on, after which they proceed to reconstruct the kite, the process somewhat depicted in the next image where Gusty adjusts the wooden crossbar, Donkey holds a newspaper under his arm, and the bluebird reads another copy. Donkey rightly suggests that strong wind is necessary for his kite to fly, he and Gusty, who holds the rectified kite, seeming confident in its redesign, a sentiment the unidentified bluebird seems to share given its own happy appearance.

Thus, as initially depicted by the cover art, Gusty flaps her wings to get Donkey’s kite to keep in the air, a plan that succeeds, the following piece showing the jubilant goose watching as her asinine friend gets his kite to fly for a change. However, a natural gust of wind comes, noted by the next art with Gusty, Donkey, and the bluebird looking fearful, Donkey losing control of his kite, its string having broken in the subsequent illustration, he and the bluebird pursuing it. Donkey does retrieve his kite, although he continues to lose control of it, crashing into Max in the next piece, which depicts Donkey crashing into his equine friend and losing his grip on the string while the horse spits a partly-eaten apple from his mouth.

Consequentially, the crash breaks Max’s own kite, noted by the next piece where he’s piled atop Donkey, with Gusty arriving to analyze the scene, other horses arriving in the following art in which Max laments the ruination of his kite. The horses eventually acknowledge their ignorance of Donkey’s initial kite-flying plight, and Max accepts his apology, the subsequent illustration showing most of the main characters, named and unnamed appearing sad. They ultimately come up with the idea of creating a joint kite, the next piece depicting the horse siblings, Donkey, and Gusty constructing it, the nameless bluebird again reading the local newspaper.

The story concludes with the new kite’s success, the final illustration in the main text depicting its paper surface to have the detail of Gusty, the horse brothers, and Donkey, with other horses flying their own kites while acknowledging the new one, Donkey having received the honor of testing it, the story ending satisfactorily on this high note. In the end, the first Horse Valley sequel is a good one sure to garner adoration from younger audiences, although the cover art somewhat reveals the plot detail of Donkey ultimately getting his kite to fly successfully despite the plot introduction mentioning his failure in doing so.

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