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The Dragonfly Pool Hardcover – September 4, 2008
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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
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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
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Top customer reviews
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."
Most recent customer reviews
It's really nice to see how Tally finds herself friends really fast with the King's son!Read more