I wish Eva Ibbotson had started to write her more recent style of children’s books a little earlier. The Dragonfly Pool is her latest book, joining the ranks of Journey to the River Sea and The Star of Kazan. I suppose the books are a little old-fashioned, but only in the best way.
The Dragonfly Pool is the Prisoner of Zenda meets Lisa Tetzner’s “children from no. 67,” which isn’t surprising considering Eva’s Austrian background. She writes well about what she knows well, and the small kingdom of Bergania sounds lovely.
Delderton is a most unusual boarding school, where Tally gets sent in the spring of 1939. No uniforms, and the children can do almost anything they want. In this case a group of them end up going to Bergania to dance for the King, except things don’t quite go according to plan. Tally befriends the young Prince Karil, and the story is a showcase for how children join together in friendship across borders, and the adventure turns from escaping the Nazis, to escaping bullying family members.
It could be that this story is a little unlikely, but it is a very charming and lovely kind of unlikely, and it makes you feel good all over. There’s some nice humorous touches, but above all it is about solidarity.