Friday, December 19, 2008

not just about being safe

The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction, YA
Challenge: A-Z (author)
Summary/Review: The king of a Bergania (a fictional country, though one that seems a lot like Switzerland) refuses to allow Hitler's troops to march through his country. Seeing this on a newreel at the movies, Tally is struck by his courage, and also interested in the prince, who's face she can't really see, obscured as it is by the plumes from his helmet. When the headmaster of Delderton (her boarding school) brings up an invitation to go to Bergania to participate in a folk dancing festival, Tally jumps at the chance, even though neither she nor any of her friends have any experience with folk dancing. Little do they know that their arrival in Bergania will coincide with a Nazi plot to get rid of the king and kidnap the prince.

That Tally and her friends are able to smuggle the prince out of the country is really only half of this story. The other half is what happens to the prince once he's safely in England. Because he has family there, and as in other Ibbotson stories, his family is fairly horrible. They are convinced that they must continue his training so that he can assume his rightful place on the throne of Bergania after the war. Except that he doesn't really want to be king. He wants to join Tally and her friends at Delderton.

And that's what this book is really about. It's about finding your place in the world, or making your place in the world, if the one that's set out for you isn't right. It's also about friendship and family and justice. If you've read other books by Ibbotson, you may find her books to be a bit formulaic, but this book is none the less charming for being similar to others.

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