King and the Dragonflies
Author: Kacen Callender
Published: February 4, 2020 by Scholastic
GoodReads Summary: 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.
Ricki’s Review: I finished this book a couple of weeks ago, and it is still on my mind. My goodness, it is beautifully written. I think I’ve recommended it about fifteen times to friends, colleagues, and students in the past two weeks. I don’t want to give away any spoilers in the review, so I’ll just say that this book shares powerful perspectives of friendship and of family. It also offers complex discussions of racism and homophobia—intersections and analysis. I am adopting this text for class use in the Fall, and I am really looking forward to discussing it with others.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to select one aspect of the text that they want to explore in depth. I can think of many (but won’t name them because they are spoilers). Then, students might group according to interests and develop text sets to expand their understandings and think about the topics they choose from multiple perspectives.
- What does Kingston learn in this text? What does he unlearn?
- How does Kingston navigate his grief? How do his family members navigate their grief?
- What did you learn from this text?
Flagged Passage: “Secrets are best kept hidden, because sometimes people aren’t ready to hear the truth. And that’s okay, King, he said, Because you don’t need other people to know the truth also. Just as long as you got that truth in you.”
Read This If You Loved: Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender; Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson
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