STARRED REVIEW
February 04, 2020

King and the Dragonflies

By Kacen Callender
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Stonewall and Lambda Literary Award-winning author Kacen Callender brings their contemporary, lyrical style to a middle grade novel about grief and love in King and the Dragonflies.

King’s big brother, Khalid, has died tragically at just 16 years old, and the doctors can give his family no explanation as to why. King’s parents are frozen with sadness, and his friends don’t know what to say to him. But King knows something that all of them don’t: Khalid is not gone. He has simply changed forms. He has become a dragonfly, just like in the dreams Khalid used to tell King about.

King spends his afternoons alone down at the bayou, trying to spot Khalid among the hundreds of glittering wings, but soon he finds he can’t hide away from the world forever. King begins to realize that he will have to face not just the reality of life without his brother but also the truth of his own identity, no matter what anyone else may think.

Callender’s second middle grade novel feels raw and authentic. It doesn’t shy away from addressing weighty themes of grief, identity and racism in a small community. Callender writes with honesty but also with kindness and strikes the difficult but necessary balance between the two perfectly. Readers will root for King on his journey toward accepting both his circumstances and himself. King and the Dragonflies is a story infused with hope that flutters and glitters all around, like so many dragonfly wings.

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King and the Dragonflies

King and the Dragonflies

By Kacen Callender
Scholastic
ISBN 9781338129335

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