When World War II threatens the people of London, Tally’s father and her aunts insist that she attend a boarding school in the country. Tally does not want to leave her family and go to a stuffy boarding school, but she is soon caught in the spell of Delderton. This is a boarding school where children are encouraged to ‘find themselves and be themselves.’ No one is forced to wear uniforms or even attend class.
With the friends Tally meets, she organizes a group to attend an international folk dancing festival in the country of Bergania (fictional). At the festival, Tally meets and befriends the crown prince of Bergania. Their friendship becomes very important when the Nazis kill Bergania’s king and Tally and her friends must save Prince Karil. This story is filled with adventure as well as strong messages about the importance of trust in friendship. It is perfect for tween readers and older.
My only complaint with the book is the fictional country of Bergania. Ibbotson holds to the culture and feel of the World War II era, but the fictional country takes away from the historical fiction aspect. The story is still entertaining and well told, but not to be counted on as pure historical fiction.
Recommended for ages 10-13.