Dragonfly Song Reviews

Kirkus ★ Starred Review

DragonflySong_Website“Orr tells her tale in both narrative poetry and prose for an effect that is both fanciful and urgent, drawing a rich fantasy landscape filled with people and creatures worthy of knowing. An introductory note describes Orr’s inspiration in the legend of the Minotaur, but her story is no retelling but a meditation on rejection and acceptance, on determination and self-determination. The shifts between poetry and prose build tension just as surely as the bull dances do. As mesmerizing as a mermaid’s kiss, the story dances with emotion, fire, and promise. (Fantasy. 10-14)”

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School Library Journal

“The Bronze Age setting makes for a unique backdrop, and Aissa is a sympathetic character. Her struggles are heartrending, and made more so by the lyrical storytelling style. The descriptions of the dances are especially vivid. VERDICT Hand-sell this unusual tale to fans of Shannon Hale’s historical fantasies.”
Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX

Read the full review in the October 2017 issue of School Library Journal

Booklist

“A retelling of the legend of the Minotaur, Orr (Nim’s Island, 2008) tells Aissa’s tale in a lyrical mix of narrative poetry and prose, using lush, vivid language to create an unparalleled fantasy world full of life and lively characters. While young readers with a special interest in history will immediately be drawn into this meticulously researched, literary story, its fast-paced, adventurous, epic feel will undoubtedly appeal to all readers.”
Rebecca Kuss

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Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The narrative style shifts between straightforward, lyrical prose and imagistic free-verse poetry, a technique that infuses the story with a dreamlike atmosphere. Both forms advance the action, but the poetry enhances the sense of intimacy by focusing attention on Aissa’s impressionistic views of the world and her sense of isolation among the people who fear, bully, and reject her. Her ultimate triumph is credibly compromised, making this an unusually thoughtful offering in the middle-school mythology genre.”

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CM Magazine

[4/4 stars]…Wendy Orr’s Dragonfly Song is a work of beauty. From the stunning cover to the mythological imagery and lyrical prose, readers are drawn in and carried along on an intense ride. Since Aissa is mute for much of the story, her thoughts and observations are inserted in the form of short poetic phrases. This change in format does not remove the reader from the story in any way, and these pieces could, in fact, stand alone as beautiful poetry. Those with no knowledge of Greek mythology will benefit from the opening author’s note, but prior knowledge is definitely not a requirement to enjoy this book. Orr’s language is gripping and enchanting, and Dragonfly Song would make a perfect read-aloud chapter book for middle grade teachers. While the academic cross curricular subject areas are obvious, including history, mythology, religion, spirituality, even bullying, I enjoyed this story simply as a pleasure read. Readers will find that Dragonfly Song and its fearless heroine will stick with them long after the final chapter.

Highly Recommended.
Cate Carlyle is a librarian at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, NS.

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Quill & Quire

Dragonfly Song is an impressive work of middle-grade historical fiction. Aissa is a brave, tenacious girl, who rebels against the constraints of her life without appearing anachronistic. There isn’t a lot of young people’s fiction set in the Bronze Age, and the details here are lovingly researched, creating a transportive world. Especially noteworthy is the representation of religion in a pre-Christian setting, as the book explores both its beauty and brutality.”

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Resource Links

“Rating: E

Dragonfly Song takes readers on a magical journey back to the Bronze Age when a magnificent civilization called the Minoans prospered on the island of Crete. Legends claim that a half-man, half-bull Minotaur lived in the palace and demanded that surrounding cities send youths each year as tribute for the bull to catch and devour….

This novel is a lyrical account of an ancient civilization. Aissa is a strong and courageous heroine who grows up to become the leader of her small island. Her determination to survive is severely tested throughout the narrative when she is rejected by her family and her community. The novel’s narrative structure is exceptional with sections in poetry revealing Aissa’s thoughts and feelings. The cover graphic is vibrant and innovative showing images which represent the major themes of the novel. Overall, this is simply a beautiful book which will definitely appeal to readers who appreciate a good adventure in a mystical setting!”
—Myra Junyk

Read the full review on page 35 of the December 2017 issue of Resource Links Magazine

Youth Services Book Review

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

What did you like about the book? …This is a fascinating story, well-told. The kingdom is so realistically drawn that it feels more like history than fantasy.

Anything you did not like about this book? Not a thing.

To whom would you recommend this book? Give this to kids who like to root for the underdog, who like fantasy kingdoms and you could also give them The Moor Child by Eloise McGraw….

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Very, very near”
Katrina Yurenka, Moderator, Youth Services Book Review

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Kids’ BookBuzz

“We rated this book: [4.5/5]…

Dragonfly Song was definitely a good book….I really like this story, as it was very original and creative. I like the creative story line, as it was intriguing. I also like that the book was partially written in poetry and partially written in prose. Books are usually one or the other, so I like how the author wove them together. I love how this story was very detailed, as I could picture almost everything. Overall, Dragonfly Song was an amazing book.”
—Farrah – Age 11

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Oregon Coast Youth Preview Center

Verdict: Australian author Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island, uses her formidable writing skills, poetic prose and narrative poetry to bring this historical fiction to life, juxtaposing the old ways of Crete with the changes brought by the invading Minoans. Highly recommended for middle, high school, and public library collections.”
—Jane Cothron

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The Reading Castle

“From the first glimpse of the magnificent cover I knew that Dragonfly Song would be a glorious read. A fantasy story embedded in history? A strong heroine? Sign me up!

Long story short: Dragonfly Song was all that I expected it to be – and, at the same time, completely different. Is that a good thing? Definitely! Dragonfly Song is a magnificent, magical book for teens and young adults. During a sleepless night, I couldn’t put the book down. I suffered, laughed and, yes, cried. And although I live and die with books, I don’t cry often….

Dragonfly Song is more than just a good read. It’s a saga, not just a retelling of the legend of the Minotaur, but a tale of fighting for one’s identity. It’s the story of a strong girl taking her life in her own hands, finding her way against all odds….

Wendy Orr slows down significantly. She incorporates rhyme, which makes Dragonfly Song lyrical and interesting to read. Orr’s poetry might be challenging for the average midgrade reader. The sections are not bothersome, though. Embedded in Aissa’s story, at the right time and in the right place, they intensify the feeling of Dragonfly Song being a saga. Orr’s writing makes the book really special and a wonderful read – even for mid-graders!

Dragonfly Song – an outstanding book for young (and old) adults! Read it! Now!”

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YA Books Central

“Part fantasy, part fairy tale, and part myth, DRAGONFLY SONG is completely gorgeous….Aissa is a heroine to be admired….

Aissa is wonderfully resilient, and although my heart broke for her constantly as I read, I never doubted that this fierce, smart, loving girl would triumph despite the many forces working against her.

I cannot recommend DRAGONFLY SONG enough. I was sad to turn the final page and leave Aissa behind, but I suspect she’ll stay with me for a long while.”
—Kristie Lowry

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Blue Stocking Thinking

“I love the gentleness and the vulnerability in this story. I also love the hope, the knowing that there is more in store for Aissa. And I love Aissa’s sense of good and her perseverance. My goodness, she certainly perseveres.

This is a book to give readers that love being absorbed in another world. Readers that don’t need flashy events on every page, readers that can wait. It is so worth the wait.”

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Log Cabin Library

Why I wanted to read this: Wendy Orr is the author of Nim’s Island, which I’ve read and enjoyed and once I read the premise of Dragonfly Song I was intrigued by how it is based on the legend of King Minos of Crete. and the Minoan civilization….

Dragonfly Song is written in both free verse and prose, which I thought was an interesting choice at first, yet Orr’s transitions come together smoothly, developing Aissa’s character and giving insights into her inner thoughts. Aissa was so resilient and even a bit silently rebellious, which I really appreciated about her character….[D]espite everything she grows into this strong girl determined to win her freedom and show everyone what she is capable of.”

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David Stringer, NetGalley

“I must admit, I enjoyed this book, it is about a young girl who doesn’t have a lot of luck growing up back thousands of years ago in Crete….a well written, interesting read and one that has introduced me to a good author I will keep an eye on.”

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Jill Jemmett

Rating: ★★★★…I really enjoyed this story….[A] great introduction to the Ancient Greek style for young readers, if they also have some guidance from an adult.”

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Kiss the Book

“At first I was thinking, well, let’s get Aissa to the Bull King’s land and get her into training already, but by the end, I was glad that I was able to connect with Aissa through knowing about her and her struggles – that made the triumph all that sweeter. Aissa’s story will not be the kind of book where students pick it up and share it with each other. Only a few students at this level are emotionally mature enough as readers to appreciate her story. What should happen is teachers need to read this and adopt it to read together as a class. With the poetry of Aissa’s thoughts combined with all of the other elements of story, this would be a rich classroom experience.
—Cindy, Library Teacher

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Reading by the Pond

“This is one of those books that I can’t believe we almost missed. Fortunately a former MSBA member reviewed this and I decided to request it and read it. Wow – this is really something….The book was part prose and part poetic narrative and was beautifully done.”

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