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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—This inventive and engaging fantasy, based on the story of the Snow Queen, will be a welcome addition to middle grade collections. Solidly scientific-minded Ophelia, whose mother has recently died, moves 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. Wandering through the museum, Ophelia discovers a boy who has been locked in a room for years, and who needs her help. Much to her own surprise Ophelia takes greater and greater risks in order to win his freedom, and, in the process, forges a strong connection with the memory and spirit of her mother. It is Ophelia's sister who plays the role of Kay, bewitched by the gifts given to her by the evil Miss Kaminski, the head of the museum. Foxlee's characters come alive immediately. While Ophelia is contemporary in her ordinariness, her courage and determination to save the people she cares about harkens back to archetypal fairy tale heroes and heroines. Foxlee skillfully reveals the story of the boy as the plot unfolds. The setting is carefully and at times spookily drawn, as Ophelia faces terrifying dangers in deserted museum corridors. The writing sparkles and the pleasing restraint of the style is happily reflected in the short length of the book. Foxlee's fresh and imaginative take on this classic tale will be snapped up by fantasy and adventure lovers alike.—Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Ophelia is a grieving 11-year-old who only believes in things that science can explain. Following her beloved mother’s death, her father takes a job at an enormous museum in a city where it constantly snows. There Ophelia discovers the imprisoned Marvelous Boy, who discloses to her that in three days the Snow Queen will discharge her wretchedness upon mankind. He further reveals that he must save the world before that happens and that only Ophelia can help him. As the boy tells his story, Ophelia accepts the challenges required to release him from his three-hundred-year captivity. She faces magical snow leopards, child ghosts, a Spanish conquistador, and a monstrous misery bird—none of which, like the boy, can be scientifically explained. Nevertheless, Ophelia learns there are truths she never dreamed of and that courage is less about bravery than about the decision to help people in need. Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, this clever story-within-a-story reads easily yet offers deep lessons about trust, responsibility, and friendship. Grades 4-6. --Jeanne Fredriksen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Audio CD: 5 pages
  • Publisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (January 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804168342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804168342
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karen Foxlee is an Australian writer. She is the author of two young adult novels: "The Anatomy of Wings" and "The Midnight Dress". Her first middle grade novel "Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy" is to be published in January, 2014. She lives and writes in Queensland, Australia.

Customer Reviews

Friendship, familial love, bravery, hope - it's all there.
Pop Bop
For the most part readers will certainly enjoy Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, and I highly recommend it for readers of all ages.
The Write Edge
If you or your child loves imaginative stories that are full of adventure, you'll want to read this book.
Wanda Barefoot

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

189 of 198 people found the following review helpful By Rob Slaven TOP 50 REVIEWER on January 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
As usual I received this book for free just so I'd review it. Also as usual I'll give my candid opinions below.

Since this is a child's book I don't judge by my usual criteria but explore two basic questions. The first is whether I would want my child to read it. To this I say most assuredly yes. It has a strong lesson to teach about following your own path, bravery and never giving up and being systematic in everything you do. As a fairly logical person I would like every chance to influence my children in that particular regard especially! More importantly, the book contains nothing one could consider even remotely of concern for young audiences. No sex, no drugs, just a bit of adventure, petty theft and lying to one's parents. OK, maybe not the best example but not like some of the terrible YA stuff I've come across.

The second question is whether I think my kids would want to read it at all. This is always difficult to judge but it does have characters that kids can relate to and a pretty entertaining story line. The vocabulary is not especially daunting and the action picks up from the every first paragraph so I think this one has a chance at setting the hook.

So in summary, I was entertained enough reading it and I think kids will be too. I have no concerns about the lesson they'll get out of it and they might learn something positive too if they're not careful. Exactly the sort of book I wold have liked as a youngster.

PS: It is always my endeavor to provide helpful reviews. If you find my review helpful please vote appropriately. If you do not, then please leave me a comment indicating what you want to know and I'll be sure to do better next time.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
First off, you need to know that this book moves in two parallel worlds and timelines. One line is set in an unnamed place and tells the ancient story of the Snow Queen and the quest of the Boy With No Name to defeat her. That story involves wizards, a mystical sword, and magic. In the second line, a modern girl finds the Boy imprisoned in a museum. He failed in his quest and has bided his time as the Queen's prisoner, waiting to renew his task in this modern world. So, we keep drifting back and forth between the old fairy tale story and the modern fantasy/quest, with the Boy telling the old story even as he lives the new story. The result is dreamy and magical but also modern and grounded in the present. The effect is immersive and elegant.

Our heroine, Ophelia, is introduced as a modern, prickly, no-nonsense, and apparently humorless girl. We learn about her disinterested older sister, the loss of her Mother and the consequent distraction of her Father, and we begin to sympathize. Still, at the outset her emotional range seems only to embrace moodiness, boredom, sadness and a detached sort of melancholy. But we also sense something else, something heroic, deep inside and waiting to be triggered

Our hero, the fairy tale Nameless Boy, is found by Ophelia where he has been imprisoned in a forgotten room in an impossibly immense museum. He is old, insubstantial, just a voice on the other side of a locked door. He feels ancient, long suffering, resigned to his fate and lost. Will he regain his strength and his heroic role when teamed with Ophelia?

The Boy asks Ophelia to help him, and she must decide whether to become involved, again, in the world.

This book's story is a free-wheeling retelling of the Snow Queen fairy tale.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stacie Hevener on February 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka
Knopf Books for Young Readers 2014
240 pages
Children’s Fiction: Fantasy; Adventure
“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.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.”

A lover of children’ stories, I was excited to receive an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher, and on reading Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy I discovered my excitement was warranted. Described as a tweaked and updated re telling of Anderson’s The Snow Queen, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy incorporates all of the elements of a good children’ story and utilizes both action and metaphor to convey it’s message of hope, friendship, strength and love.
Written for the Middle school reader, author Karen Foxlee has created a rich, tightly woven fantasy that captures the imagination, is easy to read and operates on several levels.
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