Dragonfly Kites, now available inpaperback, 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.
"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
Tomson Highway is one of Canada's most exciting and distinctive playwrights. His plays explore the contemporary Indian in a dominant white society, and the results are both exciting and challenging. Tomson Highway was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1994. Originally from Manitoba, he now resides northern Ontario when he is not travelling abroad.
Of Cree-Metis heritage, Julie Flett's books have also won many awards, including the BC Book Prize, and the Aboriginal Literature Award. She lives in Vancouver, BC.