The Rocket -- A Modern Fable

July 1, 2014 3:04 PM

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It may not be easy to imagine a modern fable, almost a fairy tale, set in post-war Laos, where unexploded bombs and grenades, courtesy of the American military, still litter the landscape. But Ahlo, an uncommonly determined and resourceful 10-year-old (not to mention defiant, as the occasion warrants) exceeds all expectations. Among the many obstacles he overcomes is an ancient tradition in his tribe that declares he is cursed, due to some unusual circumstances of his birth, and bound to bring his family bad luck. The early death of his mother, among other unhappy circumstances, seems to confirm the validity of the ancient admonition.

The possibility of deliverance from his family's poverty, as well as from the tribal curse he bears, arrives in the form of a village competition to see who can construct a rocket able to fly high enough to reach the clouds and bring rain to a parched countryside. By virtue of sheer pluck, as well a...

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