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Dragonfly Song

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  376 ratings  ·  91 reviews
The little girl found under a bush has no name and cannot speak. Is she a miracle child who escaped the raiders, or is she a bad-luck child, the one who called the Bull King's ship to the island? No one sees the mama-stone around her neck, with the sign of the dragonfly. And only Luki, in training to leap the bulls, knows that she charmed the viper who would have killed hi ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published July 2016 by Allen & Unwin
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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  376 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Dimity Powell
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-lit
Orr's latest novel has the sweeping majesty of an epic novel and the thrill of mid grade fantasy that will win leagues of young new fans. Powerful, eloquent and moving, Dragonfly Song is a story you will never want to leave. Keep an eye out for my full review and interview with Wendy, coming to Boomerang Blogs, here: ...more
Rosanne Hawke
Jun 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr is beautifully written and different: it is an historical novel set 4,000 years ago and written in prose and verse. The switch between verse and prose is seamless. A gripping story of a girl who must discover who she is and how to use her gifts as she is sent as tribute to another land. Inspired by mythology and set in ancient Crete. I will be putting this on my textbook list.
Anna Ciddor
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A fabulous, gripping read, written in a beautiful, lyrical style. The adventures of Aissa, the main character, carried me from moments of anguish and anger to satisfying triumph. I couldn't put this book down. ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2018-cybils
Aissa was born with an extra thumb on each wrist, which her mother the priestess claims makes her an "imperfect" child, not fit to follow in her footsteps of singing to the snakes. When the chief takes it upon himself to remove the child's imperfections, he ends up dying the very next day. The priestess sees this as a bad omen and summons her wise-woman to take the baby away and offer her to the God's. Keyla instead takes Aissa to farmers, where she is happy living with Mama, Dada and her sister ...more
Bruce Gargoyle
I received a copy of this title from Allen & Unwin for review.

Ten Second Synopsis:
Bad-luck girl Aissa has been mute ever since her family were overtaken by raiders. Despite being an outcast servant, Aissa believes that she can dance on the Bull King's island and win freedom for her people.

One of the first things you notice about the physical print copy of this book is its size - at first glance, it looks like a right hefty bit of work. Don't be scared off by this however, because a good chunk of
Helen Lowe
Sometimes you read a book that bowls you over — for me, Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr (author of Nim’s Island among many other titles) is definitely one of those books.

Dragonfly Song is Junior fiction and what I would describe as “legendary history”, i.e. it draws on what we know of real history, but also invokes the stuff of legends, in this case those of Bronze Age Greece/Crete, and includes at least a hint of magic.

The book tells the story of Aissa, the daughter of a priestess-queen who is cast
Jill Jemmett
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a unique middle grade story.

I love Greek mythology so I loved how this story was done in the style of a traditional Greek epic. A lot of the story was told in verse, like the epic poems The Odyssey or The Illiad. This style may be unusual for many young readers, but it will expose them to a traditional style of writing. Orr does a great job of weaving verse in with the prose of the story. Many other aspects of Greek mythology also appear in the story, such as sacrifice and animal imagery
Megan Grant
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the absolute pleasure of being able to read a prepublication review copy of "Dragonfly Song" by Wendy Orr in anticipation of its October release date by Pajama Press. I generally don't like free verse so I was pleasantly surprised how well the author integrates it seamlessly into her story making you feel like without it the story would not be complete. Being on maternity leave with a three week old and a toddler my days are generally a blur; but once I picked up this book and started it I ...more
Kate Gordon
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I *really* wanted to love this book, because I love Wendy. So I began with huge amounts of trepidation, consoling myself by thinking, "If I don't like it, I just won't review it." I started it last night ... And mainlined it this morning from 4:30 am onwards. This book got me in the "emotion place" big time. I read most of it with my hand on my heart. I loved the Nim books but my favourite Wendy Orr has always been Peeling the Onion. This book affected me every bit as much as th ...more
Laura Larson
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: november-2020
For a middle grade novel, this was very eloquent and deep. The imagery was absolutely beautiful. Throughout the entire book, I felt like I was sitting around a fire listening to the story of my ancestors. Parts were very sad to me, but I really think that's more my kind momma heart hurting for the lost or unwanted children. For the intended audience I feel like while it might be sad, it will be fleeting. 4 stars ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Orr, Wendy Dragonfly Song, 393 pages. Pajama Press, 2017. $18. Content: PG (some injuries, some bullying)

Aissa lives as a slave in the house of the Lady of their island. She has not spoken a word since her mother told her to be silent and to hide from the raiders until she returned. But Mother never came back and now Aissa is taunted and teased and is considered the lowest of the island, and even bad luck. She doesn’t know, however, that she is actually the Lady’s unwanted, supposedly cursed dau
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, primary
This was a fascinating story steeped in ancient Minoan history and culture. Abandoned at birth because of a minor physical defect, her mother, the priestess of a small Aegean island, Aissa is raised by poor goatherds until the hamlet is attacked by raiders, where she loses the power of speech Rescued after the event she is eventually left at the cities gates where she becomes the lowliest slave, a symbol of bad luck and the butt of repeated victimisation and abuse. However, Aissa gradually disco ...more
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon . Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.

A little girl is left under a bush with no voice after raiders take her adoptive family. She is the only one to survive – and so she is relegated to the bottom of society and bullied mercilessly. Her one chance at escape is to take part in the Bull Dancing – but it is a perilous task that no one seems to know how to prepare for.

Nooo! Past me, why
Karen M
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
A friend gave me this to read; I hadn't heard f the author nor read anything else by her. I did enjoy this book, pitched, I understand, to a YA audience. I can see why - themes of (not) belonging, identity, growing into who you are, friendship, family and stepping into the big wide world with its almost-too-much challenges are quintessential adolescent and young adult themes. For all ages.

The story is a familiar one - Aissa, a cast out, reviled child suffers greatly under the slings and arrows o
Kylie Purdie
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads, cbc-2017
This book has been shortlisted for the Australian Children's Book Council Younger Readers book of the Year.

This is the last of the younger reader books I've read. It took me a bit to get going with it, but once I did I really enjoyed it. Wendy Orr uses a stream of conciousness style to let the reader know what Aissa is thinking and at times I found it broke the flow of the story. Once I settled into these almost verse like interludes occuring I found I really enjoyed the book.

I love that Orr pre
This is an engrossing and beautifully written tween or YA novel about the first thirteen years in the life of a Bronze Age girl.

Wendy Orr has chosen to slip between verse and prose as she tells this tale. The decision is an inspired one because for the early section we are looking through the eyes of a baby and then a 4 year old child, and in the later part through the eyes of a voiceless girl. So here a more intuitive use of language is ideal rather than formal sentence structures. The verse m
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dragonfly Song
Wendy Orr
~historical fiction, childrens, Minoan era, rejection, acceptance, determination, Bull Dancers, magic

Aissa is the firstborn daughter of the island's Priestess...but she's born with a minor deformity and should have been cast from the cliffs. Instead, the wise woman who takes her places her with a family that had just lost a baby. When she loses her adoptive family to raiders, she is dumped at the gates to the Great Hall...mute and unknown. She becomes No-Name, a slave of s
David Stringer
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I must admit, I enjoyed this book, it is about a young girl who doesn't have a lot of luck growing up back thousands of years ago in Crete. She is however destined for more out of life then she starts out getting. And so with this book we get some historical fiction, generous sprinklings of mythology and a good dollop of action later on in the I was always hopeful of a good read with all these ingredients.

Why the dropped stars? From a personal point of view, and know others will give
Sue Bursztynski
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cbca-awards-2017
I was interested to read this because I had loved Mary Renault's The King Must Die, but the attitude was more like Poul Anderson's The Dancer From Atlantis, which showed the pleasant, laid-back civilisation of ancient Crete - and, in this one, the impressive technology, including the plumbing.

The author has done her research thoroughly and where bits were missing, such as information about bull dancing, she has made intelligent guesses from what she did know. (As someone who used to live on a d
Megan Higginson
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What an incredible storyteller Wendy is. This story had me hooked from the beginning. From the main characters entry into the world and her life from that point on, to the setting, the time period, the format. The whole story had me riveted. I read the last two chapters over breakfast one morning. As I closed the book at the end of the last chapter, tears streamed down my cheeks. Happy tears. I wanted to read the book all over again and not move on to the next on my 'To Be Read' pile. Perhaps I ...more
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cbca-shortlists
An unexpectedly fantastic read! At first, the passages of free verse were disconcerting but as the story grew, they wove their way expertly into the fabric of the tale. Aissa's blend of innocence and determination is powerful to read; Luki's kindness and humble aspirations a perfect foil. It was easy to invest in these characters. ...more
Vicki Kyriakakis
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book at a cracking pace. I literally devoured it. Wendy Orr's writing is exquisite. Moving, deeply connected and a great story. The pacing slows about half way through but you appreciate the time taken by the time you finish. ...more
G.R. Thomas
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, wonderful and stunning. I loved loved loved the history in this book An excellent read that inspires me deeply.
Heidi Stallman
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! The story and characters were fascinating and I especially liked the mix of prose and verse. Historical fantasy at its best.
K.A. Wiggins
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
This was kind of a hard book to review, mostly because it almost falls between genres. It's classed as an upper Middle-Grade historical fantasy, which, that's not wrong . . .
I felt like it had more of a classic children's fiction feel to it. It's coming-of-age, and also a sort of epic hero's journey, straddling children's lit and YA in a way that's often done more by adult literary works. It touches on many 'big ideas': deformity, religion/society, acceptance, adoption, trauma, bullying, disab
Radford Library Secondary Library
Abandoned by the priestess of the island at birth, Aissa is an outcast, surviving by her wits - until she joins the acrobatic bull dancers who are sent away to compete on the island of the Bull King. There are two ways of looking at Aissa's story. She's the miracle girl who escaped the raiders. Or she's the cursed child who called the Bull King's ship to the island. The firstborn daughter of a priestess is cast out as a baby, and after raiders kill her adopted family, she is abandoned at the gat ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you are into stories that have Greek mythology as a base and/or you love strong female characters that remain true to themselves even while enduring almost unbearable hardships, then this might be the book for you. Aissa should have been the next high priestess but as she was born with an extra thumb on each hand, her mother took it as a bad omen and she was cast out. Aissa survived but became the "lowest of the low" and was worked from morning til night, taunted, beaten and treated as a "no- ...more
Katharine Harris
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had trouble putting this book down, the imagery and characters kept me so captivated.
Aissa is such a strong central character, watching her grow through the book , dealing stoically with all the twists her life throws at her.
I love the mysticism mixed in with the very real life of the characters,the love of the history of the times is very evident in Wendy Orr's writing.
The use of open verse for Aissa's voice works very well, in some exciting passages I couldn't believe how fast I read them
Louise Kelly
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wendy has written a beautiful book that is destined to be loved, re-read and shared. Written in a flowing lyrical style, it will appeal to both younger and adult readers alike. While the book draws the reader into ancient mystery and ritual the main character Aissa brings a richness and depth. Thank you Wendy for writing Dragonfly Song, a book that is sure to become a classic
Sep 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dragonfly Song has just been awarded a silver Honour Book certificate by the CBCA. A well-deserved accolade. Here's my review from last year.
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I’m an author, but I could never have started writing books if I hadn’t loved reading them first. Reading isn’t just one of my favourite things to do; it’s one of the most important things in my life. I can’t imagine a world in which I couldn’t read, every day. That’s why I always read to my children every day, just as my parents used to read to me. Stories can be exciting, sad, funny, scary or co ...more

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