Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 6 to 8
- Grade: 1 to 3
Dragonfly Kites, now available in paperback, is the second book in Tomson Highway's magical Songs of the North Wind trilogy. Like Caribou Song, it has a bilingual text, written in English and Cree. And Highway once again brilliantly evokes the very essence of childhood as he weaves a deceptively simple story about the power of the imagination.
Joe and Cody, two young Cree brothers, along with their parents and their little dog Ootsie, are spending the summer by one of the hundreds of lakes in northern Manitoba. Summer means a chance to explore the world and make friends with an array of creatures.
But what Joe and Cody like doing best of all is flying dragonfly kites. They catch dragonflies and gently tie a length of thread around the middle of each dragonfly before letting it go. Off soar the dragonflies into the summer sky and off race the brothers and Ootsie too, chasing after their dragonfly kites through trees and meadows and down to the beach before watching them disappear into the night sky.
But in their dreams, Joe and Cody soar through the skies with their kites until it's time to wake up.
About the authors
Tomson Highway was born near Maria Lake, Manitoba in 1951. His father, Joe, was a hunter, fisherman and sled-dog racer, and his family lived a nomadic lifestyle. With no access to books, television or radio, Highway’s parents would tell their children stories; thus began Highway’s life-long interest in the oral tradition of storytelling. When he was six, Highway was taken from his family and placed in residential school in The Pas; he subsequently went to high school in Winnipeg and then travelled to London to study at the University of Western Ontario, earning a music degree in 1975 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976. Instead of becoming a professional concert musician as he had at one point contemplated, however, Highway decided instead to dedicate his life to the service of his people. Fluent in Cree, English and French, he was for six years the artistic director of Native Earth Performing Arts, the first and most enduring Native professional company in Canada which he also helped found. From 1975 to 1978 Highway worked as a cultural worker for the Native Peoples’ Resource Centre. He has worked for the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Culture and also for the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres as a program analyst. From 1983 to 1985 he worked as a freelance theatre artist before becoming the artistic director of the De-ba-jeh-mu-jig Theatre Company in 1986. He has been writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and Concordia University. Tomson Highway is widely recognized for his tremendous contribution to the development of Aboriginal theatre in both Canada and around the world. In 1994, he was inducted into the Order of Canada, the first Aboriginal writer to be so honoured.
Julie Flett is an award-winning Cree-Metis author, illustrator and artist. She has received many awards, including the 2016 American Indian Library Association Award for Best Picture Book for Little You, written by Richard Van Camp (Orca Books), and the Canadian Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Award in 2015 for Dolphins SOS, written by Roy Miki (Tradewind Books) and in 2017 for My Heart Fills with Happiness, written by Monique Gray Smith (Orca Books), and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature for her book Owls See Clearly at Night (Lii Yiiboo Nayaapiwak lii Swer): A Michif Alphabet (L’alphabet di Michif). Her own Wild Berries (Simply Read Books) was chosen as Canada’s First Nation Communities Read title selection for 2014-2015.
"Highway's text has a graceful simplicity, evoking the deep pleasure of brothers at play in a serene, remote setting. Flett's art enhances those qualities . . . The elegant page design cleanly incorporates the English and Cree texts."
— Horn Book Magazine
"This charming tale is an engaging look at the universal joys of childhood. Recommended."
— School Library Journal
"Flett's (illustrations) are pellucid, her colours clear, her lines clean and precise. The stillness of the northern lake is marked by a few faint ripples; the dragonflies are made extraordinary by the delicate tracery of their wings, luminous against a clear sky. The magic of summer, the wilderness, and northern stillness is right here. Highly recommended."
— Toronto Star
"At once a celebration of heritage, the wilderness, and imagination, this book is a breath of fresh northern air."
— Kirkus Reviews
"I am thrilled that Fifth House is giving us Dragonfly Kites this year. The illustrator is one of my favorite artists: Julie Flett. . . Dragonfly Kites will be at the top of my lists this year!
— American Indians in Children's Literature
"From Tomson Highway's reminiscent text and Julie Flett's creative and evocative illustrations, Dragonfly Kites takes readers to a simpler time and one deep in traditions."
— CanLit for LittleCanadians
"Unlike most fiction, Dragonfly Kites does not follow a standard plot line. Like the dragonfly kites that the boys follow, the plot simply glides along until the boys wake up from their dream. This is appropriate due to the significance the illustrations play in this picture book, as well as the age of the intended audience. Readers are not overwhelmed by the storyline and are free to appreciate the accompanying illustrations.
"The illustrations in Dragonfly Kites act as an extension of the story. The pictures in the book are colourful, beautiful, and have an austere, stark quality. This is consistent with other works produced by award-winning illustrator Julie Flett. This style suits the story as, aside from the nature that surrounds around them, Joe and Cody are depicted as being by themselves. While they live with the parents, their adventures occur when their parents are fishing without them. The full-page illustrations demonstrate the vast space that surrounds the boys.
— CM Magazine
Other titles by Tomson Highway
Le grand chef Salamoo Cook arrive en ville !
Grand Chief Salamoo Cook is Coming to Town!
Laughing with the Trickster
On Sex, Death, and Accordions
My Name Is Seepeetza
30th Anniversary Edition
Growing Up Cree in the Land of Snow and Sky
Permanent Astonishment (Signed Edition)
Kiss of the Fur Queen
Penguin Modern Classics Edition
From Oral to Written
A Celebration of Indigenous Literature in Canada, 1980–2010