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The Dragonfly Pool

A beloved New York Times bestselling author returns to paper!

At first Tally doesn?t want to go to the boarding school called Delderton. But soon she discovers that it?s a wonderful place, where freedom and selfexpression are valued. Enamored of Bergania, a erene and peaceful country led by a noble king, Tally organizes a dance troupe to attend the international folk dancing festival there. There she meets Karil, the crown prince, who wants nothing more than ordinary friends. But when Karil?s father is assassinated, it?s up to Tally and her friends to help Karil escape the Nazis and the bleak future he?s inherited.

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3 Comments

  1. E. R. Bird "Ramseelbird" says:

    By the willows there we hung up our lyres 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 (“”) and one of her more imaginative flights of fancy (“”). 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. Once at the school, however, the girl finds herself greatly enjoying herself, learning the strengths and secrets of the kids around her. And when a chance comes to start a folkdancing group and perform in the little nation of Bergania, nothing could be sweeter. While there she even manages to strike up a friendship with the crown prince Karil. Bergania is one of the few European nations unwilling to submit to Hitler and his demands, and when tragedy strikes it’s up to Tally to help Karil any way she can and up to Karil to determine once and for all what it is he would like to be as a person.The publishing blog Pub Rants once proffered a piece of writing advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since; “writers should not mistake voice for character development.” Easier said than done. Ibbotson certain has voice down, but character development. . . . character development she has DOWN down, man! Example A: Consider the description of Tally’s personality. A mediocre writer would say that she was strong and show one scene involving personal strength, leaving it at that. A better writer would be subtle and let Tally’s strength emerge and surface as a natural part of the text. And then there is Eva Ibbotson. She wants to make it clear that Tally has a clear view of purpose and commitment. So how exactly do you show that? You throw in small unforgettable details alongside the naturally emerging strengths. You mention that her grandmother spent a lot of her time washing the socks of beggars, and that it takes a certain amount of character and determination to get those socks OFF of the beggars’ feet first. Details such as this do not grow on trees. They don’t grow in the brains of many writers either, for that matter.I’ve often thought that class is to England what race is to America. This isn’t to say that America can’t be classist and England can’t be racist (racism and classism are horribly universal in that sense), but we’ve very different histories in both areas. In the case of this book, class is a constant companion to Tally. Her father is a good doctor who would rather cure a patient than make a quick buck, and as a result he doesn’t make a lot of money. Karil is royalty, a fact that allows him to fit in perfectly in British society since he is considered of great quality (in spite of the fact that the family loses money like water through a sieve). Another offspring of classism is where you chose to send your children to school. Hence Delderton becomes a kind of anti-boarding school. It is said that the actress Tilda Swinton refuses to act in the Harry Potter movies because they romanticize the boarding school experience. Whether you consider that to be true or not, they certainly make schools with houses and colors and sports sound neat. As a progressive school Ibbotson cleverly makes it clear why it is that Tally much prefers Delderton, where she might stifle (or at the very least be unhappy) at a posh prep school elsewhere. And on the bookflap of this title Ibbotson notes that Delderton was modeled after the real school Dartington that she attended when she was young, pet hut and all.The temptation when you read a book like this is to suddenly try to sell it to your fellows with grabby sentences…

  2. Sheila L. Beaumont says:

    Enchanting story of friendship and heroism 0

  3. Rose Green says:

    Excellent! 0

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