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King and the Dragonflies

By Kacen Callender   

Scholastic Inc. | ISBN 9781338129335 Hardcover
272 Pages | 5.779" x 8.596" | Ages 8 to 12

Scholastic Inc. | ISBN 9781338129359 Ebook
272 Pages | Ages 8 to 12

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.

The Thing About Jellyfish meets The Stars Beneath Our Feet in this story about loss, grief, and finding the courage to discover one's identity, from the author of Hurricane Child.

Raves & reviews:

Praise for King and the Dragonflies:

School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
The Horn Book

*"[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

*"[A] powerful tale of grief, intersectional identity, and love."—Publishers Weekly, 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