WINNER OF THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE 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.
WINNER OF THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR YOUNG PEOPLE'S LITERATURE
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.
“Kingston (King) James and his parents are grieving the loss of Khalid-- King's older brother. When Khalid was alive and the two shared a bedroom, he would talk in his sleep, telling his younger brother stories about the universe and its magic. King continues to see Khalid in his dreams, and is convinced Khalid has transformed into a dragonfly. The Louisiana bayou provides the backdrop for both a colorful landscape and a tense, fearful place where racism festers. When King's former friend, Sandy, who is white, and the son of the racist police chief, goes missing, King ends up helping hide Sandy from his abusive father. Woven seamlessly into this wise story is King's slow awakening of his sexuality, brought to the fore by his renewed friendship with Sandy, who is known to be gay. Callender's writing is so authentic and their characters are so tenderly portrayed by Ron Butler's superb narration I mourned its conclusion. The whole package is a crowning achievement.”Jane, Bear Pond Books
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.
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