Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson

Publisher:  Dutton Juvenile, 2008
Pages:  216
Source:  Purchased
Genre:  Middle Grade Adventure/ Historical Fiction

Tally is living in 1939 London and Hitler is on the move.  With this threat looming, Tally's father decides to send Tally to a school far away.  She has always been an obedient daughter and doesn't want to create anymore pain for her father so she goes.  Her father, a doctor is well respected in the area because he is one of the best yet treats the poor no different than he would treat the rich.  The difference is they have very little money.  His brother, also a successful doctor and his wife recommend that he send Tally to school with their daughter.  It is considered one of the top schools in the country.  Tally begs her father not to send her to such a snobby place.  She ends up at Delderton a progressive school where each child is allowed to pursue their own line and way of learning.   Tally is unlike many of the children.  The headmaster describes her as "a girl who wants to make the world a better place".  After going to the movies with her friend Julia and watching a newsreel on Bergania she is filled with admiration for the King of that country for standing up to Hitler.  When the opportunity to visit that country to participate in a Folk Dance Festival she pushes everyone into  creating a dance so that they may participate.  Little did she know when she went that she would meet and become friends with the Prince.  There is no way she could know that she would play a part in his survival when his father is killed.
One of my favorite characters to hate was Carlotta.  She was the daughter of a Prince and the cousin to Prince Karil.  She was being groomed to be his wife one day.  He hated her snobbery.  She and Tally's cousin Margaret would have gotten along famously.  They liked to drop names all of the time.  It reminded me of a time I taught in an international school.  I taught English and Science and happened to have the son of a music star.  He didn't do his work.  After the third missed assignment I told him I would have to contact his father.  He looked at me and laughed and said, "Do you know who I am"?  I never cracked a smile as I said, "Yes, you are one of my students that I have been charged with teaching.  I also know who your father is and know that he will not be pleased with such a call."  He didn't believe me.  We (the administration and myself) made the call and his father put him on a one month  probation and if he had not brought his grades up then he would be sent back to England.  He didn't believe him.  He didn't do the work and his father pulled him back.  He felt if the wasn't willing to be serious about his studies then there was no reason for him to waste money on his son's education in another country.  Name dropping never did anything for me.  I was not awed and I was not  intimidated.  It might have something to do with growing up in a family where my father was a gospel singer.  I loved meeting these people I admired but did not worship them.  I felt sorry for Karil who was in a family where appearances were everything.  It wasn't enough he'd lost both parents and his country, he was losing his identity by being forced to live a life he didn't agree with.  This is a definite must read book.  I had it in e-book form but will definitely have several copies on my shelf this fall.  I have always loved Eva Ibbotson's books and this one was  one of the best I have ever read.

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