Friday, April 24, 2009

The Dragonfly Pool

I was so excited when I first heard about the release of The Dragonfly Pool; I completely adore Eva Ibbotson and the story sounded perfect.  

And, of course, it was.

The Dragonfly Pool begins in pre-WWII London where feisty Tally has to leave her beloved doctor father, and the danger of the city, for a progressive boarding school in southern England.  Despite missing home, she soon has friends and mentors that help her feel at home and she is renewed with a sense of purpose.  After seeing a special on Bergania's king bravely defying Hitler, Tally is inspired to visit and when she hears of an international dance festival taking place there, she rallies her classmates to participate.  Of course, things don't go as planned: there is an assassination, a prince on the lam, two hideous henchman, a rare Outer Mongolian pedestal dog, among many other things.  

I think that if I could have written a novel as a child, I would have wanted to write just like Ms. Ibbotson.  She has marvelous lead characters- definitely not cookie-cutter heros and heroines- some are spirited, some are shy but all are completely three-dimensional.  Her villains are delightfully abhorrent and usually quite repulsive (one villain kept a picture of Hitler in a locket, another collected rare glass eyeballs).  Her plots are usually outlandish and difficult to summarize (as I proved by my above paragraph) but, when reading, are easy to follow.  Her books move at a perfect pace and always have just the ending one wants.  The Dragonfly Pool was classic Ibbotson but classic Ibbotson with a cherry on top.  It was one of those read-straight-through-the-night-until-I-finish books.  Loved it.

What authors write the way you, as a child, wanted books to be written?