Hans Christian Anderson's fable The Snow Queen is currently experiencing quite a popular culture revival between the overwhelming popularity of Disney's Frozen and the release of Karen Foxlee's delectable middle reader Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy.
Foxlee's interpretation of Anderson's timeless 1844 fairy tale is utterly enchanting, just as it should be for an audience of
six to twelve year-old children forty two year old moms and compulsive bibliophiles. Enchanting, in fact, before the actual story even begins, when we are treated to this letter:
Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard's mother has died. Floundering in grief and shock, Ophelia's father - the world's foremost sword expert - decides to take a mysterious museum job in a foreign city where it never stops snowing, believing that the change of scenery might help Ophelia and her sister Alice begin to heal.
What Ophelia finds while exploring this strangest of museums will change her life forever. Because, you see, Ophelia doesn't believe in magic. Not one little bit. She doesn't believe in wizards or magical swords or boys with no names or the One Other. So when she discovers a boy locked in a forgotten room, Ophelia simply cannot believe he is being held captive by the Snow Queen and only she can help.
To convince our scientific-minded Ophelia, the Marvelous Boy must tell her his story. Thus, we have a tale within a tale.
Foxlee deftly weaves past and present together until a tapestry emerges: how the evil Snow Queen currently reigns over the city and the evil she is about to unleash. As for Ophelia, she must learn to listen to the memories of her mother if she is to confront and conquer this evil, saving the Marvelous Boy, her family, and humanity.
There is a richness to this story that evokes the warmth and comfort of a story read out loud to children on cozy nights. And it is that, I suppose, that makes it so appealing to those of us who know a good book when we see it. Highly recommended for the children in your life - nieces, nephews, grandchildren, godchildren, etc. for all occasions. You just can't go wrong with this one.
Title: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Author: Karen Foxlee
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date: January 28, 2014