The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson

The Dragonfly PoolDragonfly Pool is a hard book to categorize because while it seems to take place in the past, much of the action is set in a country that doesn’t actually exist. But for brevity’s sake, let’s say it’s historical fiction.

It’s London, 1939 and 11-year-old Tally is devastated to learn that her beloved father is sending her off to a boarding school in the countryside to protect her from the impending Nazis. And when she tells everyone she’s off to Delderton School, their reactions have her very nervous. However, once she arrives she realizes how lucky she is, for Delderton is a wonderfully progressive school where Tally easily makes friends with staff, teachers and students alike. When she sees a newsreel about the king of Bergania defying Hitler’s army, she is intrigued and when Begania hosts an international children’s folk dancing exhibition, Tally is determined to visit this small (fictional) country in Eastern Europe.

The festival doesn’t go well because on opening day, the king is assassinated by Nazis and the prince, the lonely and now-orphaned 12-year-old Karil, is in grave danger. With the help of Tally and everyone at the festival, Karil safely makes his way to England. He wants to attend Delderton but his royal relatives won’t allow it and he and Tally—and Tally’s exotic biology teacher—plan ways to make it happen.

It’s a serious book, but filled with a lot of fun scenes and readers will find Tally to be an endearing main character. Dragonfly Pool is a good introduction to the horrors of World War II without being too graphic or scary for readers. It’s also a wonderful story about friendship and obligation and loneliness and herosim.

Posted by: Cindy

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