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King and the Dragonflies

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  7,812 ratings  ·  1,617 reviews
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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Scholastic Press
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Average rating 4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,812 ratings  ·  1,617 reviews

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Lala BooksandLala
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer, ruined-my-life
Flawless. One of the best middle grades I've ever read. Will recommend this to someone every day; this book will save lives. ...more
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poignant, Queer, Middle Grade.

If these are buzzwords for you, then you have come to the right place. King and the Dragonflies has it all and more!

After 12-year old, Kingston, loses his brother, Khalid, unexpectedly, he is convinced Khalid has transformed into a dragonfly.

King spends his afternoons down by the bayou, where the dragonflies flit about in great numbers. He's constantly searching for that special one. The one that is Khalid.

One of King's most distinct memories of his brother was whe
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Absolutely stunning.
Gavin Hetherington
Oh this was just epically beautiful and such a fantastic read. I thought this handled the topic of identity at a young age so supremely well, and I could feel the conflicts and emotions of Kingston.
Lauren Lanz
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Secrets are best kept hidden, because sometimes people aren’t ready to hear the truth.”

King and the Dragonflies easily surpassed my expectations. Considering it's written by the same author of Felix Ever After, it’s no wonder I ended up loving the story.

~★~ What is this book about? ~★~

When King’s older brother Khalid died, his spirit became a dragonfly. King looks for him down by the bayou each day, but is secretly haunted by one of the last things he said.
Khalid overheard a conversatio
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

KING AND THE DRAGONFLIES is an odd, bittersweet book. I wasn't sure what to make of it while reading it, and to be honest, I'm still kind of trying to figure out my thoughts. King is a young boy living in Louisiana, struggling to deal with his grief over his older brother's death. That's not his only problem, either. He's alienated his best friend by outing him as gay, partially out of fear that his own sexuality might also come into que
love the title, love the cover, love the complicated premise, and love callender's thoughtful execution!

what i do NOT love is the audiobook narration. the narrator is not a kid and not from louisiana, but still tried to do preteen voices in a new orleans accent, and it's rough. i hate when a difficult audiobook makes such a negative impact on an otherwise good reading experience, but oh well. i should have gotten the print version!

anyway. as for the actual book, it's very well done! after readin
Basically Britt
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
What a perfect start to the new year. This book was AMAZING!
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
heartbreaking, important, poignant, absolutely freaking beautiful
TW: racism, homophobia, death

Ahh this was such a good example of intersectionality at work. While it didn't tug at my heart the way that I expected it to (quite a few individuals told me that they cried), I did love that Kacen took the time to not only focus on a conversation about race, but also a conversation that focused on being queer and Black. Sometimes people have a tendency to forget that when individuals fit into several categories of maginalized groups they have more complex experience
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Honestly this was pretty much perfect.

A middlegrade book about a black boy dealing both with grief and his sexuality?
An honest depiction of a family coming to terms with the loss of one child and the sexuality of the other?
Very real but sweet side characters featuring another queer boy in an abusive home?
And a hopeful but realistic ending?

THIS BOOK IS IMPORTANT. And so so good. Just go and read it please.

TW: racism, homophobia, child abuse, discussion of a family member's death, grief
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
[4.5 Stars]
My Video Review:

Wow, this is a really well-crafted story with very realistic characters and experiences. This is my second Callender novel that I've adored, so now I have to go read the rest of their backlist!

I suppose that even if you come late to a party, you should get some kind of credit for showing up at all, right? When I was a younger reviewer I’d get this huge kick out of being one of the first people online to review the newest books. It didn’t matter if they weren’t going to come out for 6 months, I’d still put that review out there into the world. These days, with the sheer number of titles being churned out every year, I’m happy to sit back and let other readers sift through the sheer num ...more
friendship ended with ya, middle grade is now my friend

Rep: Black gay mc, gay side character, Black side characters

CWs: child abuse of side character, discussions of homophobia and racism
Reading_ Tamishly
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
*Coming of age, LGBTQIAP rep, racism and discrimination, domestic violence/abuse, bullying

And so many things that have been represented so well.

*I can't wait to write the review!

(My heart... my poor heart 💝)
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
A beautiful, poignant, hopeful, yet ultimately bittersweet story of identity, grief and discovering your place in the world.

This is the kind of story you want to put into the hands of young people across the globe. It teaches empathy, being true to yourself and standing up for your right to be who you are. It's also a fantastic example of the different experiences people can have within a shared identity.
There are too few books (both in general and in MG) exploring what it's like to be young, g
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning.
rachel ☾
Trigger warnings for (view spoiler).

Representation: Kingston (mc) Black & gay; Black
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
rep: Black gay mc, gay side character, Black side characters
tw: child abuse of side character, discussions of homophobia and racism

i love to just... FEEL things
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
This was such a heartfelt, bittersweet, and poignant portrait of grief and being true to yourself. I loved this!

- Follows Kingston "King" James, a Black boy who lives in the Louisiana bayou with his parents and is grieving the death of his older brother. When his former best friend goes missing and King is the last person to see him, he seeks him out.
- Despite being a short book, I'm in awe of what this book explores and with such profoundness and depth too, especially its portrayal of what it'
daria ❀
a beautifully crafted story and one of the best middle grade novels i’ve ever read.
Callender's second MG is just as beautiful as their first, which isn't an easy thing to achieve. This one is the heartrendingly hopeful tale of a boy named King growing up in the Louisiana bayou, grieving his brother’s sudden death. Khalid had been his idol, and the only thing King knows for sure that he wanted is for King to stay away from Sandy, the gay kid in his class. It’s kind of a problem, since not only did they used to be close friends, but Sandy was the one person who understood King’s ...more
Lucy Tonks
Jul 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rtc
Even though this is Middle Grade, it hit way harder than Felix Ever After which is YA.
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Aimed at early teens, the dream talks with King's recently deceased brother Khalid might be a little over the heads of this age group. I liked the variety of maturity levels of the group of kids that hung out together, which is so true at that age. The confusion of King at losing his hero-older brother, and discovering how to reconcile he likes guys more than girls was well written and not overdone. He still liked girls as friends, but didn't like the full girlfriend-thing.

There were holes in th
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Yes, hello. Do you like emotionally impactful Middle Grade books that deal with race, sexuality, and grief? Do you like beautiful, atmospheric writing? Then you need to read King and the Dragonflies.
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was beautiful. I couldn't stop reading. And now I want to cry. ...more
My heart was here 10000% the entire time.


A story about family, grief, friendships, and being gay while black. How being gay and black is sometimes an act of courage and makes things a little harder and a lot more complicated.

I’m touched!!!

Also, great narration.
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful story of self acceptance, love, and dealing with loss. Such an important middle-grade novel that I think every middle-school student should read.
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Kacen Callender is a Saint Thomian author of children's fiction and fantasy, best known for their Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award-winning middle grade debut Hurricane Child. Their fantasy novel, Queen of the Conquered, is the 2020 winner of the World Fantasy Award and King and the Dragonflies won the 2020 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Callender is Black, queer,

Articles featuring this book

  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
46 likes · 60 comments
“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.” 10 likes
“I didn't even know so much water could be inside a person- like he was hiding an entire ocean beneath his skin.” 8 likes
More quotes…