March 07, 2016

Dragonfly Kites / Pimithaagansa

by Tomson Highway
Illustrated by Julie Flett
Fifth House Publishers
978-1-89725-263-5
32 pp.
Ages 4+
March 2016

The two young Cree brothers from Tomson Highway’s Caribou Song (Fifth House, 2013) return in a new release of the second tale from the author and playwright’s Magical Songs of the North trilogy. This time the boys and their parents and dog Ootsie are heading to spend the summer further north in Manitoba.

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. A time of traveling north by canoe and erecting a tent by a lake so papa and mama could fish while the boys played by themselves on land, and “think up games with made-up toys.” (pg. 6) The boys are only limited by their imaginations and because their imaginations are so expansive, there are no constraints on their play.

They create personalities from sticks.  They make friends of terns, loons, rabbits, and eaglets.  And they create magical kites from dragonflies and string. But even after the sun sets and the boys are asleep, their dragonfly kites take them on wondrous adventures.

From Dragonfly Kites by Tomson Highway, illus. by Julie Flett

The story of Dragonfly Kites is both uplifting and calming and beautifully captivated by Julie Flett’s illustrations.  The clean lines of her art may appear to be stark but they conjure the lavish environment of the lakes and north of Tomson Highway’s story so persuasively that any “more” would have been too much.

Like Caribou Song, Dragonfly Kites is presented in English and Cree and shares another aspect of traditional Cree ways, the summer in the north. While most young readers could not imagine a whole summer away from their technology, Joe and Cody demonstrate the richness of a life based in family, the natural world and imaginative play is more than enough to fill their days and their dreams.

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