King and the Dragonflies

Winner, National Book Awards 2020 for Young People's Literature

ISBN 9781338129335
Scholastic Press / Scholastic Inc.
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. More about this author >

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From the publisher:

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.

Judges Citation

King and the Dragonflies hooks the reader from its first haunting sentence. Twelve-year-old King’s voice rings true and not a single line feels superfluous. Themes of toxic masculinity, racism, and self-discovery slowly come into focus as King himself begins to understand the layers of hurt and hope in this world. Kacen Callender has created a timeless story that is painfully timely—one that will lodge in your gut and grow.

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