Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Dragonfly Pool

The Dragonfly Pool

Eva Ibbotson
For ages 10 to13
Penguin, 2009   ISBN: 978-0525420644

When Tally's father tells her that he is going to be sending her away to a boarding school she is appalled. She loves her father and she wants to stay with him, even if the Nazis start bombing London. Surely her place is with her family and not in some snooty boarding school in the country. In the end Tally agrees to go, and it turns out that the boarding school, Delderton, is not at all like the schools that her rich cousins go to. There are no canings, and the teachers are kind and fair. Delderton is a "progressive" school where the staff tries to nurture their students instead of bully them.

Tally starts to settle in, and very soon she has a close little circle of friends. One day the principal tells the students that they have been invited to participate in a folk dance festival in Bergania, a small country in Europe. Though the principal dismisses the idea, Tally begs him to allow a team from Delderton to go. After Tally and her friends prove that they can put together a dance – of sorts – they are give the go ahead.

Bergania is a beautiful place and it is made even more special for Tally when she makes friends with the Crown Prince of the land, Karil. Karil is a very lonely and isolated twelve-year-old boy and he is warmed by Tally's open offer of friendship. When Karil's father is the assassinated by his Nazi enemies, it is Tally who decides that something needs to be done to save Karil from falling into Nazi hands.

In this moving and thoroughly enjoyable novel, Eva Ibbotson takes her readers into the worlds of the have and the have nots. She explores the differences between the lives of the rich and powerful, with those of people who know that there is more to life than just money and status. She shows her readers that standing up to others and defending the weak is important and, to great effect, she shows her audience that true friendship is priceless.

This book is a joy to read and its essential, but not overbearing, messages are true and meaningful.