The Dragonfly Pool
by Eva Ibbotson, published 2008
“It was because of the king. Because he was brave and true to what he believed in and wouldn’t let himself be bullied. Because he knew that if you have power you must use it well and not be afraid.”
Dragonfly Pool is a thoughtful children’s book that from start to finish presents the principle that children can and must find out for themselves who they are and who they are meant to become. Throughout all the events in this unusually realistic story, the idea that children must not be coerced into molds, comes across loud and clear. Trusting the innate wisdom of children and humanity, we see the very best outcome for everyone.
Dragonfly Pool is an unexpectedly riveting and inspiring children’s book, complete with drama, history, as well as a set of inspirational characters. I had not expected the book to be quite as sophisticated as it is, set during WWII in England, but it certainly is within the grasp of mature 11 and 12-year-olds, and up.
I found the most compelling aspect of Ibbotson’s writing was how real the characters become. As I read it, I experience their difficulties, their dramas, and their successes. As with her other children’s book, Journey to the River Sea, the main character is born with a selflessness that inspires the best in the characters in the book, and the best in the reader as well. In addition, there is, just as in Journey, a wonderful adult role model for the children.
I think this could make a wonderful book for a class that might be studying the history of the time around the start of WWII, perhaps for 7th or 8th graders. However, it easily stands on its own as a novel to read for the excitement and inspiration of the triumph of good over evil. An all-around good piece of children’s literature.