Rummanah Aasi
  If you have patrons lined up and waiting to get their hands on a copy of Frozen's DVD or Bluray, you might want to offer them a copy of Karen Foxlee's Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. While you may not find a princess nor a prince in these pages, you will embark on a bittersweet journey of self discovery. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book.

Description: Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help. As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous boy is an inventive and engaging retelling of the Snow Queen, which will be enjoyed by both fantasy and adventure fans alike. On the outside Ophelia is plain, curious, solidly scientific-minded, and asthmatic, but she is much braver than she realizes. When her mother recently dead, she moves in with her older sister and father to a snowy and wintry city, where her father is busy working on a museum exhibition of historical swords.
  Unlike her sister, Ophelia isn't concerned about learning and wearing the latest fashion, so she occupies her time wandering through the large and empty museum. While wandering Ophelia discovers a boy who has been locked in a room for years, and who needs her help. She takes some time and asks appropriate questions to determine if the Marvelous Boy is telling the truth and much to her own surprise Ophelia takes greater and greater risks in order to win his freedom. In the process of gaining self confidence, Ophelia also forges a strong connection with the memory and spirit of her mother; she begins to believe and action with her heart and mind as one.
  I'm not too familiar with the Snow Queen story so I can't vouch for how true this book is to the specific details of the original tale, but I really liked how the author chose to make Ophelia contemporary in her ordinariness and emphasize her courage and determination to save the people she cares about, which not only echoes back to archetypal fairy tale heroes and heroines but it also shows younger readers that they don't need to be someone extraordinary to do extraordinary things. Foxlee skillfully reveals the story of the boy as the plot unfolds. The setting of an empty, large museum is utilized with great effects as it is carefully and at times spookily drawn, as Ophelia faces terrifying dangers in deserted museum corridors. The writing sparkles and there are plenty of symbols and allegories to discuss for advanced readers.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some dark and disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 4-6.

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8 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I'm not very familiar with the Snow Queen story either Rummanah, but now I want to go look it up! This sounds like such a fun book, and I love that Ophelia asks lots of questions about the Marvelous Boy before simply believing what he says. Lovely review as always:)


  2. Oh, this one sounds sweet (and slightly off-kilter - my favourite!) Obviously, this isn't what I really read/review, but it's something I'll definitely recommend to my young nieces! Lovely review, Rummanah :)


  3. What grades do you recommend this for? I have read several reviews of this and I like the sound of the museum and the magical and I am not familiar with the Snow Queen tale at all. I am pinning this to my kids' pinterest board.


  4. @Heidi: Sorry, I forgot to finish that line of thought! I would recommend it to Grades 4-6.


  5. I don't really read retellings, for some reason they just never work for me, but since I'm not really familiar witht he Snow Queen story either, I could just not think of it as one.
    MY daughter is just now starting to read full lenght novels, so I'm on the lookout for something entertaining and appropriate.
    Lovely review!


  6. Oh this might be perfect for my little cousins! I love the sound of these characters, especially Ophelia. Thanks for the rec!


  7. I haven't heard of the Snow Queen but I love the sound of this one. Imagine finding a boy locked away in a room for years! And then she gets to wander a museum for as long as she wants ... what a fun childhood!


  8. I have read many retellings, but I haven't read the actual Snow Queen story. I probably did as a child and just don't remember it. But I did read this book and loved it. I loved the contemporary setting as well and Ophelia's scientific mind and her mother's voice, a complete opposite of Ophelia. I really loved this one! Your review is much better than mine! I'm glad someone could do it justice!!


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