The main character of the book is a girl named Tally and it is set at the beginning of the Second World War. It is split into three parts.
In the first part Tally is sent to Delderton Hall Boarding School against her wishes. However she quickly settles and makes friends – and enjoys learning the ‘progressive’ way, where children have no rules and total freedom. She organises for the children to invent a dance, in order to travel abroad to Bergania, where a children’s festival is taking place. The amazing teacher Matteo and houseparent Magda agree to accompany them.
In the second part, Tally and her friends travel to Bergania and make friends with children from lots of different countries. They are unaware of the pressure the King of Bergania is facing to let the German troops through. His son, Prince Karil of Bergania, bumps into Tally in the woods and is pleased to make a friend. Unlike most princes, Karil longs for freedom but is being trained to ‘do his duty’ by his Countess Frederica. In the meantime however, the King’s right hand man Gambetti conspires with the Nazis against him and the King is shot. This forces Karil into hiding and only Tally can work out where he is. Together with the cooperation of children from all different nations, they come up with a way of smuggling Karil back with them in their trains. A pursuit by the Gestapo across Europe ensues, with a hair raising chase; Karil only just makes it back to England with everyone else.
In the third part Karil is back in England, but whisked away to live with his relatives and continue with his ‘duty’. Tally is back at school and longs for Karil to come. The family conspires not to let any communication through, so Tally and Karil think the other has stopped caring and forgotten about them; they are miserable. After a number of failed attempts, Karil finally manages to escape. But he is tracked down by the police - not to be taken back - but to be informed his Grandfather has died. He is allowed to continue at Delderton, until after the war. In a twist, Karil turns down becoming king and Matteo becomes the first president of Bergania.
I enjoyed reading this book, particularly following how the characters develop over the course of the story. Tally has a very proactive manner and encourages the reader to dare to think ‘big ideas’ and attempt the ‘impossible’. The description was excellent and suspense was maintained throughout the story.
Add your review here.
- Reading Age: 10+
- Reading Aloud Age: 8+
If you like this you might like
- Add a link here.