King and the Dragonflies Summary and Reviews

King and the Dragonflies

by Kacen Callender

King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender X
King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender
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About this book

Book Summary

In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy's grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself.

Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family.

It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy-that he thinks he might be gay. "You don't want anyone to think you're gay too, do you?"

But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King's friendship with Sandy is reignited, he's forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother's death.

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Awards, 2020

Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] powerful tale of grief, intersectional identity, and love." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[A] dynamic tale that will resonate with children struggling to reconcile who they are with what they think society wants them to be." - Booklist (starred review)

"Callender tackles some serious issues...with finesse and a heady sense of the passions and pangs of youth...this title solidifies Callender's merit as a powerful middle grade and YA author... An intense, gripping tale of love, loss, and friendship featuring a black youth grappling with his dreams and his identity." -School Library Journal (starred review)

"Callender masterfully balances resonant themes of grief, love, family, friendship, racism, sexuality, and coming-of-age...deeply affecting, memorable." - The Horn Book (starred review)

"Callender's vivid descriptions...are magical...Elegiac and hopeful." - Kirkus Reviews

"From the opening sentence, King and the Dragonflies sings the complications of loving and caring for imperfect and wounded people. Callender sets us deep into King's mind and life, and never lets go of the reins. They don't pull punches...and thank goodness for that!" - Alex Gino, the Stonewall and Lambda Literary Award-winning author of George

"This sensitive and powerful story speaks to any reader trying to find the courage to be themselves in a complicated world. King's heartbreaking, beautiful, and ultimately hopeful journey helps him come to terms with family loss and his own complex identity." - Veera Hiranandani, Newbery Honor Award Winning author of The Night Diary

"Young readers will find friends and allies aplenty in Kacen Callender's vital novel, King and the Dragonflies, which flutters with life, love, loss, and resilience, a story as iridescent and complex as a dragonfly's wings." - Alex London, author of Proxy and Black Wings Beating

"King and the Dragonflies is a lyrical coming of age tale about grief, friendship, family, belonging, identity, and hope. I honestly could not put this book down. This is a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading." - Aisha Saeed, New York Times bestselling author of Amal Unbound

This information about King and the Dragonflies was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Kacen Callender

Kacen Callender's debut novel, Hurricane Child, was the winner of the 2019 Stonewall Book Award and the 2019 Lambda Literary Award, as well as a Kirkus Best Book of 2018. Born and raised in St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, they enjoy playing video games and watching anime and reality TV shows in their free time. Kacen currently lives and writes in Philadelphia.

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