The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Eleven-year-old Tally doesn’t want to go to a far away “progressive” boarding school, but she agrees to go, understanding that her father wants her to be safe if England really does enter the war against Hitler. Much to her surprise, she finds that she really enjoys the school and the other students.
Meanwhile, Prince Karil of (the imaginary country) Bergania dislikes his royal life more than ever. All he wants in life is to be free; that is, do what he wants and to have real friends. When students from schools (including Tally’s) all over Britain and Europe visit Bergainia to perform in a folk dancing festival, Karil hopes he will be able to spend time with kids his own age.
The students end up befriending Karil, but not under normal circumstances. They all work together to help him when his father, the king, is assassinated by Nazi sympathizers in front of everyone at the start of the festival. Those close to him fear that his life is in danger, so he must escape the country unnoticed.
This is a sweet story about the true meaning of friendship and how everyone, from the poor, regular citizens to the rich, famous royalty, need to be loved by friends. Tally is extremely likable, always putting others ahead of herself. Readers will root for Karil as he’s forced to find his own way after losing his father. Those who enjoy this WWII story might also enjoy Finding Sophie by Irene N. Watts.
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