The Dragonfly Pool

Written by Eva Ibbotson
Review by Sonia Gensler

Eleven-year-old Tally Hamilton loves her simple life in London with her physician father and doting aunts. But when a second world war seems imminent, Dr. Hamilton decides she should accept a scholarship to the freethinking Delderton School in the quiet safety of Devon. (Readers will be pleased to learn that Delderton is based upon the boarding school Ibbotson herself attended as a girl.) Tally is homesick at first, but being a good-natured and sensitive child she quickly grows attached to her schoolmates and teachers. When the students attend an international folk dancing festival in Bergania, Tally leads the way in hatching a plot to save the young Berganian prince from the Nazis.

This story features the usual cast of quirky characters that makes Ibbotson’s stories so beloved. Like Ibbotson’s other heroines, Tally is sweetly good but also a feisty and creative problem solver. Readers in the 8-12 range will be charmed by the story’s humor and poignancy, as well as by the elegant simplicity of the prose. Teen and adult readers will also find much to love, but ultimately might prefer Ibbotson’s A Song for Summer, which has similar characters and situations but is aimed toward a more mature audience.