Kai and The Magic Jacket
Author: Tricia Chinn Campbell
Publisher: Blissful Thinking
DISCLOSURE: Unlike the majority of reviews in this blog, I've neither bought this book nor borrowed it from the library. This is a "galley" copy ebook, supplied by the author. I'm not receiving (nor will I expect to receive or accept) remuneration for this review. The chance to read a new book is sometimes reward aplenty!
Kai is given an unusual present (by western standards!): a really fabulous-looking Chinese jacket made from red silk. Not your usual present for a kid, you might think, and you'd be right, because this jacket is magic, and Kai loves it. It fits him perfectly. What he doesn't know won't hurt him: this is a magic jacket which connects him to his ancestors. But though he doesn't know it when he gets it, he soon learns just how magical and valuable it is.
That night when he sleeps with the jacket, unwilling to let it out of his sight, he discovers that the ghosts of an uncle, a grandfather, and a grandmother appear from the heating vents. They are here to be advisers to him and try to keep him safe, and make him wise.
They succeed! Kai learns many things from them, including the fact that this jacket is ancient, and has been passed down from parent to first-born for many generations. Kai knows that he too must pass it on when he has a child of his own.
In a western world where the extended family is pretty much a thing of the past for far too many people, and where knowledge of the past is in danger of being lost from family trees, where children are routinely fostered out to daycare so both parents can work, it's easy to forget that for thousands of years, the extended family was the human community unit (indeed, you can see the unit right in the middle of the comm unit y!). Children were educated from multi-generational sources, and were cared for by everyone within that group.
This gorgeously illustrated reminder of times past, and of the benefits of passing on wisdom, which some have not yet lost to progress, is both touching and charming.