Author: Rosemary Danielis
Publication: CreateSpace (July 26, 2009)
Description: Iris, a feisty, solitary, eleven-year-old girl prefers being down by the creek near her house more than anywhere else in the world. School is nothing but a joyless prison and uninterested in her classmates she spends each day gazing out the window, waiting for the dismissal bell to ring. Her only friends are the dragonflies who flit through the shoulder high bulrushes growing along the creek's banks. Iris discovers the dragonflies are more than they appear to be and that she is the key to resolving an age-old battle between light and dark, good and evil. She has the ability to unleash the power of the Earth to restore the balance that has been lost. This however is not what the Solaris have in mind. They are the world's most powerful Evil and Iris is the only one who can stop them! Will Iris and her friends be able to win this battle? Iris and the Dragonflies is empowering, and a must read for all girls.
My Thoughts: Iris and the Dragonflies was a fun, engaging read that would be good for middle graders. Iris is a social outcast. She is much more interested in hanging out by the stream and observing the wildlife there than spending time in school. The dragonflies talk to her but no one, except maybe her teacher at school believes her. Her mother is supportive but thinks she has too much imagination. Her father is abrupt and dismisses the possibility that Iris is telling the truth. Her older sister is mean and constantly puts Iris down. She has only one friend and Grace is a shy, withdrawn girl herself.
The summer between fifth and sixth grade Iris travels with her family to visit her grandmother in Ireland. There she explores an old castle, learns old stories that might be true from her grandmother and her grandmother's caretaker Cormac, and discovers a hidden dragon tooth. The stories are about dragons and ancient priestesses who protected the Earth from those who would exploit it. Iris comes back home with even more questions than she started with considering that she could see the past when she touched the castle walls.
When sixth grade begins Iris and Grace make new friends - Luciano from Italy, Anming from China, Karishma from India, and Jabulani from Tanzania. They work on a project together to save Iris' Dragonfly Creek from developers who want to destroy it. The kids have to deal with a mayor who seems for sale to the highest bidder, the class bullies - Timmy and Tommy, the evil development company, and the secretive Mr. Fretghar who seems to know more about Iris than she told him.
I thought the characters were well-drawn. They reminded me of a lot of the middle schoolers I work with every day. I liked that Iris was concerned about the earth but was also kid enough to almost throw a tantrum when things didn't go her way. I also liked the way the kids worked together to solve the problem. I thought both the magic and the ecological message were well-integrated into the story. And I really liked that the grown-up characters who were there to help the kids were a teacher and a librarian.
There is enough adventure in this one to satisfy the adventure lover and enough fantasy for the fantasy lover. There are enough real middle grade issues - bullies, first crushes, and school rivalries - to satisfy the realistic fiction fans. And while the story doesn't end on a cliffhanger, there are still unresolved issues that will have kids looking for the next book. I will be looking forward to a sequel to this story myself.
Iris sat at her favorite table by the window, marveling at the books stacked in front of her, like the Tower of Pisa. She breathed in the wonderful smell of paper, enjoying the feeling of knowledge that resonated from this place.I was sent this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here. Click the link on the author's name to go to the Iris website.
The library had always been an indoor refuge for her, an escape from the noisy, bustling world. Within these four walls, she could think, question and explore whatever she wanted.