By Sofia Jesus

It is a simple story. Of friendship. Of dreams that fly high. And of a Macau that teaches us all, day by day, the preciousness of having each other — no matter in what language or under what creed.

O Papagaio do Juninho (Juninho’s Kite, in English), both wonderfully written and illustrated by Manuela Noronha, is a beautiful children’s book set in Macau. It tells the story of Juninho and Xavier, two kids brought together by their love for kites and freedom.

One fine morning, Juninho met Xavier, “a radiant boy who had just arrived from the West, where the sun sets”. Xavier had a colourful kite that immediately impressed Juninho. As the two became inseparable friends, Juninho’s grandfather built his grandson “the most beautiful kite of Coloane, Taipa and Macau”.

The two friends had fun together playing around with their kites, until one day Xavier almost fell from a rock at Cheok Van beach and Juninho was forced to choose between keeping his beloved kite or letting it go to reach out and save Xavier. He chose the latter. And both kids were heartbroken to see “the most beautiful kite of Coloane, Taipa and Macau” fly away forever.

“What a great sadness had taken over those hearts that did not understand why there had to be a choice always: one way or another… Why couldn’t there be just one way where everything went according to everyone’s wishes?,” the author tells us.

Juninho, Xavier and the former’s grandfather eventually figure out a way to comfort their hearts, in a tale full of references to Macau’s festivities and traditions, as well as to multiculturalism and harmony among human beings.

O Papagaio do Juninho was first published — in Portuguese — by Instituto Português do Oriente in 2008. It only came to my hands very recently, though. And I couldn’t have felt more delighted about that encounter.

O Papagaio do Juninho

Manuela Noronha

Instituto Português do Oriente, 2008