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The Dragonfly Pool Paperback – October 15, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5–8—Tally, 11, attends Delderton, a progressive boarding school in the Devon countryside, and though she doesn't want to leave her loving father, London in 1939 is not very safe. As it turns out, she thrives there, good-naturedly setting herself to solving the problems of students and staff alike. When Bergania, whose king has refused to let Hitler's armies march through his (fictional) country, announces an international children's folk-dancing festival, Tally convinces her school to attend. During their visit, the king is assassinated, and she and the Delderton troupe rescue 12-year-old Prince Karil and smuggle him to England. Kept virtually imprisoned by his snooty wellborn relatives, Karil longs for a normal life, and eventually finds a way to escape his royal obligations, attend the school, and be reunited with his friends. Tally has a bit of Sara Crewe about her; she is singularly compassionate and generous, beloved by almost all who meet her. Her worries and imperfections make her wisdom lovely rather than irritating. Prince Karil and several adults receive meticulous and fascinating character development, but many others remain one-dimensional, known mainly by their eccentric traits. The unsympathetic characters are easy to dislike, so unremittingly negative is their depiction. Although the battle between good and evil is painted with a broad brush, Ibbotson treats most issues with a wise, subtle, and humorous touch; her writing is sublime. The satisfying epilogue, set six years later, will have readers giggling through their tears.—Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Eleven-year-old Tally doesn’t want to leave London for boarding school in the country, but with Hitler amassing power and war on the horizon, her father insists. Tally expects Delderton to be full of posh bullies and cruel teachers, but it turns out to be a place where the students are free to learn in their own way. When the school is invited to participate in an international folk-dancing festival in Ibbotson-imagined Bergania, where the king has gained notoriety for refusing Hitler’s demands, Tally overcomes all odds to put together a troupe. In Bergania, Tally and Karil, the lonely crown prince, become fast friends, and after the king is assassinated, she and her friends smuggle Karil out of Bergania, intending to hide him at their school. While selfless, optimistic Tally is a little too good, Ibbotson’s trademark eccentric characters and strongly contrasted principles of right and wrong brighten and broaden this uplifting tale. The thrilling war story, complete with chase scenes, clashes at first with the nostalgic school tale, but they eventually come together in celebration of freedom of all kinds. Grades 5-8. --Krista Hutley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 0960 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142414867
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142414866
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #819,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
5 star
91%
4 star
9%
3 star
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See all 22 customer reviews
The characters are well-developed.
Marilyn K. Coxon
A mediocre writer would say that she was strong and show one scene involving personal strength, leaving it at that.
E. R. Bird
The story captured me right away and I had a hard time putting it down.
Katie Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To read a book that is pure pleasure is a gift, particularly when you've been reading a lot of so-so or merely okay books for a while. My history with Eva Ibbotson has been a kind of stilted one. As a librarian I've shelved her fantasies on a regular basis. As a reader I tasted one of her realistic stories ("The Star of Kazan") and one of her more imaginative flights of fancy ("Island of the Aunts"). And I did like them both, but that was all. I "liked" them. I didn't love them, look forward to going back to them, or think about them in my spare time. They were fine and they were good and they were completely insufficient when it came to preparing me for "The Dragonfly Pool." This book has all the cleverness and charm of her previous books. But rather than indulge in a steady slow-building charm, the text in this book dives right for your throat from the start and clasps you tight for the rest of the tale. If you've never read an Ibbotson before, I suspect that here would be an excellent place to start. She has gripping kid-friendly writing down to an art.

Tally, as it turns out, is the last to know. When her hard-working but penniless father tells his daughter that she has a chance to attend a progressive boarding school called Delderton, Tally is miserable at the thought. Leave all her friends and family for some school outside of London where she knows no one? The world is on the brink of WWII and it's no wonder that Tally's father is inclined to get her out of town.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sheila L. Beaumont VINE VOICE on October 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love all of Eva Ibbotson's books, and this enchanting tale of heroism and friendship, with its fairy-tale atmosphere, is one of her best. The story is set in 1939, just before World War II, and Hitler is on the move. The heroine, 11-year-old Tally, is sent by her father, a doctor in London, to Delderton, an unconventional boarding school in the Devon countryside where students are encouraged to think for themselves.

Meanwhile, in the small European country of Bergania, the king is bravely standing up to the Nazis. His son, Crown Prince Karil, seeks solace and escape from the restrictions of court life at the Dragonfly Pool, a hidden place that his father also used as a childhood refuge.

The children at Delderton are invited to a folk-dance festival in Bergania, and when Nazi conspirators assassinate the king, the children smuggle Karil out of the country to safety in England. This beautifully written story is full of adventure, narrow escapes, excitement, humor, and well-portrayed, believable characters, and Tally herself is courageous, intelligent, friendly, and commonsensical. I highly recommend this delightful book to middle schoolers, teens, and grown-ups alike. Don't miss out on it just because it's labeled "young adult."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rose Green on November 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wow, this one really hit the sweet spot. I guess it's a little like Frances Hodgson Burnett's books, only written today. And with more...interesting characters. And Nazis. And naturalists (this must be a side interest of Ibbotson's--it reminded me of her Journey to the River Sea). And a class where you have to imagine turning into a spoon. And a determined heroine set on rescuing a prince. What a wonderful book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
I finished The dragonfly Pool about five minutes ago and was in a rush to review it here so everybody else can hear about this AWESOME book and get to read it too. This was one of those books that you don't want to put down but when you have to to eat, and go to school and you think about the book a huge smile goes across your face, you start hyperventilating, and your heart rate goes up. I was almost afraid to finish the book because I thought it would be like some other books I've read. The ones where the majority of the book is completely entrancing and then the ending stinks so much you almost want to cry. SeeParade of Shadows as a prime example of this. Anyway, this book wasn't like that, perfectly beautiful from start to finish.
P.S. I made the mistake of getting this book from the library. Don't do that because you'll want to read it over and over. This book is so worth fifteen bucks.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on May 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
The thing which seems to define Eva Ibbotson's heroines are their unorthodox natures, their ability to listen and their kindness. in 11 year old Tally, the heroine of this story Ibbotson has created another heroine of this type in a satisfying adventure/romance for all ages.

Tally is motherless girl in London just prior to World War II. Her father is a local doctor who serves his community rather than getting rich, and she is raised by her Aunts. Meanwhile Tally's uncle is a rich doctor who values money and prestige over substance. Tally's cousins both go to posh boarding schools with uniforms and strong discipine.

When Tally is offered a scholarship to a boarding school in Devon she decides to go but with some fears having heard her cousins talking about it, but Tally's school is quite different. Possibly based on Summerhill, it is a free school where students do not wear uniform and are encouraged to take charge of their own education. where botany lessons might start at 4 in the morning with a field trip to look at badgers, and drama is pretending to be a fork. Tally and her friends meet at the Pet Hut to discuss things.

A chance letter from a small European country sends them to Bergania where the King is trying to hold off the Nazi's and his son, the Crown Prince is lonely - another motherless child who is brought up by the Countess Frederica who he refers to as 'the scold'.

When the King is assasinated it is Tally and her friends from Delderton who rescue him, smuggling him back to England where he is taken back to live with his grandfather, the Duke of Rottingdean and his three uncles and Aunts all of whom have been deposed from the countries they ruled.
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