Dragonfly Kites or pímíhákanísa

Reviewed: May 23, 2003
By: Story by Tomson Highway, illustrations by Brian Deines
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
32 Pages, $19.99

Dragonfly Kites is the story of two brothers, Joe and Cody, who spent their summers with their parents living in a tent in Northern Manitoba, Each summer they stayed at a different one of the hundreds of lakes that dot that part of the province.

They didn’t have a lot, but they were happy with what they had, making toys out of sticks and rocks, keeping wild birds as pets, and teaching the animals in the forest to eat from their hands. It was a simple way of life, but the boys were happy

The neatest trick of all, however, was the way they made what they called “dragonfly kites”, capturing the insects and “flying” them from bits of thread. All day they would race their catches through the fields and down to the water’s edge, where they would release them. This game was so much fun that they had even more exciting dreams about it at the end of the day. What flights they took then.

Tomson Highway is best known as a playwright, but this is his second book for children. Like the first, this one tells about life as it was lived on the land decades ago, and has text in both English and Cree. In a broadcast interview a year or so ago I recall hearing him say that he had three of these in mind, so I guess there’s one to go.

Brian Deines’ oil paintings are an impressionistic rendering of the story and setting, capturing the feel of the place and the emotion of the boys as well as the actual look of the land.