THE UNSTUMPABLE CHARLIE KITE
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As explained by the author:
Every year, I go camping with my son. Late fall is our favorite time to go: the bugs are gone and, for the most part, so are the people. After days of hiking and seeing no one else, it can feel like we have the entire woods to ourselves.
These trips are about many things for us: exploring the wonders of nature, building self-confidence, and taking a break from the digital world.
As my son gets older and stronger, our trips have become increasingly ambitious. We venture further into the woods, navigating off trails with a compass and maps, into areas far from any kind of camping services. One year, we camped on a remote island in the center of a vast and entirely unpopulated lake, in a particularly inaccessible section of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.
One freezing night on the island, as my son slept next to me, I couldn’t sleep; I wondered about the life skills he was learning on these trips. More fundamentally, I wondered how deeply the wells of resilience ran inside of him.
It’s impossible to know until we’re put to a test.
News headlines tell stories of remarkable people surviving for days or weeks lost in nature, where they show remarkable ingenuity to survive. These stories are captivating because they show some of the best of the human condition: the perseverance that every parent hopes to teach their child. My thoughts on that cold night developed into a premise for this book, The Unstumpable Charlie Kite, about a contemporary boy – a cool kid from Brooklyn – who is caught in a classic tale of adventure and survival. It is also a tale with an unusual twist.
I wrote this book as a way to explore the cleverness and extraordinary heart of a middle schooler named Charlie Kite, and in doing so, to write about the extraordinary that is inside all kids. I wanted to write about fear, and how its strongest antidote is love. As a parent, one of my jobs is to frame my kids’ fears as challenges to be overcome. I wrote this book in the same spirit: to frame Charlie Kite’s wild journey into a moment of triumph, for his family, himself, and – hopefully – the reader.
Greg Takoudes is an author, filmmaker, and professor of film studies at The New School in Manhattan. His debut feature film Up With Me premiered at the South-by-Southwest Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award. Up With Me screened at film festivals throughout America and Europe, winning several awards, and was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and other media outlets. The film was distributed by the Independent Film Channel (IFC). Greg also directed the short film Limit of Wooded Country, starring Tony-award winning actor Santino Fontana (Tootsie) and Jake Cannavale (Nurse Jackie). Greg’s feature film, The Jonestown Defense, is set for release in 2020, and he is currently in pre-production on a family crime drama set in Alaska.
Greg wrote the award-winning young adult novel When We Wuz Famous, published by Henry Holt (hardcover) and Square Fish (paperback), to strong reviews. In May 2019, his nonfiction book The Collaborative Director, about film directing aesthetics and collaboration, was published by Routledge. He has also published pieces on Huffington Post and Fatherly.
Prior to becoming a filmmaker and writer, Greg worked for Ron Howard and Brian Grazer as a member of the creative team at Imagine Entertainment in Los Angeles. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, an executive editor at Phaidon, and their two children.