Release date: Out now
Genre: Historical adventure
Target audience: 10 +
Set at the start of the Second World War, The Dragonfly Pool explores Tally's experience of being sent to a progressive boarding school by her beloved father to keep her safe. Tally is a strong and vibrant character who believes that anything is possible. The story follows her experience as she determindely makes the best of her new life and takes it upon herself to try to solve the problems of her fellow students and her teachers.
The novel is well written and it rejoices in the beauty of the natural world. Tally makes many new discoveries in her Biology lessons with Matteo and he opens both her and our eyes to the glory of nature. This beauty is set against the destruction of the war and gives an interesting contrast.
When Tally's school visits Bergania as part of their folk festival, we are introduced to Prince Karil. The story then explores the solitude and somewhat adult upbringing that Karil experiences. Whereas Tally finds it hard to be "free", Karil desperately craves the chance of a normal childhood and friendship.
As my purpose for reading this novel is to use it with a student book group, I have to say I would recommend it to teachers and librarians for use with able readers. The novel raises many interesting points about different styles of education and includes lots of detail from the Second World War which would be great discussion points. However, some children will be put off by the length of the novel and at times the lack of pace.
Overall, The Dragonfly Pool is a wonderful adventure story which is amazingly detailed and (if you can suspend your disbelief) gives you a sense that anything is possible. I liked it.