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King and the Dragonflies
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King and the Dragonflies
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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...
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...
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  • 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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Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 2, 2019
    Callender (Hurricane Child) returns to middle grade in this powerful tale of grief, intersectional identity, and love. Twelve-year-old Kingston “King” Reginald James lost his beloved older brother, Khalid, 16, three months before this book’s start, though King believes Khalid has become a dragonfly and visits nightly in his dreams. When Charles “Sandy” Sanders—the son of the racist sheriff and King’s former friend— disappears, and King realizes he was the last to see Sandy, he ponders his obligation to tell anyone; King knows Sandy is a victim of domestic abuse and suspects Sandy’s father is the perpetrator. Finding Sandy hiding in his backyard, King struggles with the memory of Khalid’s warning to stay away from the boy (“You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay, too, do you?”) and their Louisiana town’s homophobia as he decides to help Sandy and explores his own identity. Callender paints dream sequences in evocative prose; notable as well is their exploration of grief’s impact on a family. If some side characters feel underdeveloped, it’s because King himself shines wholly real as a black child learning to negotiate shifting interpersonal relationships and navigate sociocultural pressures and expectations. Ages 8–12. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

  • AudioFile Magazine Ron Butler lends expertise, elegance, and an unerring expressiveness to his heartbreakingly beautiful performance as King, a black tween living in Louisiana who is coping with the death of his older brother. When his ex-best friend, Sandy Sanders, goes missing and King finds him hiding in his backyard, he is forced to confront questions about himself and his grief. As the story explores a gamut of topics--racism, homophobia, child abuse, death, and sexuality--Butler's exemplary delivery is full of emotion that mirrors the novel's bittersweet but hopeful tone. Without hesitation and occasionally using a subtle Southern drawl, Butler readily switches from the small tremulous voice of King to the commanding voices of adults. This spectacular and touching performance is a must-listen for all ages. E.P. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine

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