Ophelia and the Marvelous Boyby Karen Foxlee
“Magic is “messy and dangerous and filled with longing,” we learn in this brave tale of grief, villainy and redemption that borrows from the story of the Snow Queen. Set in a vast, chilly museum, the tale brings together a valiant girl, a charmed boy, a magical sword and a clock ticking down to the end of the world.”—The Wall Street
“Magic is “messy and dangerous and filled with longing,” we learn in this brave tale of grief, villainy and redemption that borrows from the story of the Snow Queen. Set in a vast, chilly museum, the tale brings together a valiant girl, a charmed boy, a magical sword and a clock ticking down to the end of the world.”—The Wall Street Journal
This is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who 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 about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.
In this appropriately frosty take on The Snow Queen, Foxlee (The Midnight Dress) introduces 11-year-old Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard, who’s asthmatic, pragmatic, curious, and braver than she realizes. Ophelia’s family, shattered after her mother’s death, is visiting an unnamed snowy city so her father can curate an exhibition of swords. Exploring the strange, icy, and nearly empty museum, Ophelia discovers the long-imprisoned Marvelous Boy, who recruits her to help him save the world from the Snow Queen; she also turns up a cluster of deadly “misery birds” and a roomful of the ghosts of numerous girls. Foxlee’s writing is elegant and accessible, with a pervading melancholy; this is as much a story of loss as it is an adventure. Certain elements, such as the identity of the Snow Queen, aren’t really surprises, but it’s in Foxlee’s evocation of the museum’s unsettling dangers, as well as Ophelia’s eventual willingness to reconcile what she knows in her mind with what she feels in her heart, that this story shines. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Catherine Drayton, Inkwell Management. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)
“A present-day fairy tale that practically sparkles with its own icy menace...[a] memorable and ultimately moving novel for young readers.”
The Christian Science Monitor, January 31, 2014:
"Foxlee's novel will be read and loved by youngsters who've grown up on fairy tales, graduated to Harry Potter, and appreciate gorgeous writing and complex storytelling. In this story of friendship and yes, even bravery, Ophelia shines as one of the first true heroines of the 2014 crop of fabulous middle-grade novels."
Starred Review, Kirkus, November 1, 2013:
"A well-wrought, poignant and original reworking of Andersen’s 'The Snow Queen.'"
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, November 11, 2013:
"Foxlee's writing is elegant and accessible, with a pervading melancholy... this story shines."
Starred Review, Booklist, December 15, 2013:
"This clever story-within-a-story reads easily yet offers deep lessons about trust, responsibility, and friendship.”
Starred Review, The Bulletin, February 1, 2014:
"Foxlee inventively weaves familiar folkloric elements—an evil snow queen, a magic sword, a quest, a chosen one—into her modern setting, all the while evoking a mood of dreamlike foreboding."
Starred Review, School Library Journal, March 1, 2014:
“The writing sparkles . . . Foxlee’s fresh and imaginative take on this classic tale will be snapped up by fantasy and adventure lovers alike.”
The Horn Book, January/February 2014:
"Foxlee’s deftness with characterization and setting...makes this a satisfying fantasy."
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
Eleven-year-old Ophelia faces her fears to help a nameless boy imprisoned in a surreal museum by the evil Snow Queen in this contemporary fairy tale. An asthmatic girl who believes in science and eschews fantasy, Ophelia's curious but admittedly not very brave. Grieving her mother's recent death, Ophelia arrives in a snowy "foreign city" with her father and sister. While her curator father organizes an exhibition of swords, Ophelia wanders the vast museum until she discovers "The Marvelous Boy," trapped by the Snow Queen for three centuries in a hidden room. A spell preventing the Snow Queen from killing the boy expires in three days, when he will die and the world will freeze unless Ophelia can free him, locate his magical sword and identify the "One Other" to defeat the Snow Queen. Though she's unsure she believes the boy's fantastical story, Ophelia gradually heeds an inner voice urging her to follow her heart. Alternating between Ophelia's bizarre quest to save the boy and the retelling of his story, the intense plot moves Ophelia beyond grief to fulfill what she realizes is her destiny. Armed with her inhaler, practical Ophelia proves a formidable heroine in a frozen landscape. A well-wrought, poignant and original reworking of Andersen's "The Snow Queen." (Fantasy. 8-12)
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 12 Years
Meet the Author
KAREN FOXLEE is the author of two young adult novels, The Anatomy of Wings and The Midnight Dress. She lives in Gympie, Australia, with her daughter.
About the Illustrator
YOKO TANAKA has illustrated children's books by Kate DiCamillo, Sara Pennypacker, R.L. LaFevers, Laura Godwin, and Keith McGowan.
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Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a dazzling modern day retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Snow Queen. Her grief still fresh after the recent loss of her mother, Ophelia discovers a boy locked in the museum where her father is working and becomes entangled in a quest to save the world. Full of excitement and magic, Foxlee's storytelling absolutely glitters. It's the kind of superb writing that enchants the reader, making you feel as if you're reading a classic. This book made me cry... more than once. There were moments so profound, so intricately layered that children will connect with the story on one level, and adults on a deeper level. Best of all, Ophelia is a strong character. She's practical, intelligent, and kind-hearted. She is scientifically-minded, but her curiosity and her fearless questioning keeps her always learning, always discovering new things, open to whatever adventure comes her way. With Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, Karen Foxlee has crafted a timeless story all ages will find both relevant and magical.
This story is about Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard an eleven year-old girl whose father is an expert in swords and is working for the museum. While exploring the museum, Ophelia finds a small boy locked in a room. She soon discovers he is the Marvelous Boy and a miraculous adventure awaits her. The Marvelous Boy sends Ophelia on several errands to find the things she needs to rescue him and find the Other One to defeat the Snow Queen. With the clock ticking, signifying the end of the world, Ophelia braves her fears and forges onward to complete her mission. Ophelia was such an adorable little girl. She had asthma and each time she was frightened she would take a puff from her inhaler which was quite frequently. She was a very smart child that thought scientifically. She believed in finding evidence, compiling lists, shading maps or asking questions to get things accomplished. One of her most endearing traits was tugging on her braided pigtails to make her feel better. This book was also full of lessons for children and adults alike. ___________________Quote___________________ "The strangest thing I have learned is that it's impossible to know what's inside someone. The wizards didn't teach me this, but I have learned it myself. Those who appear tall and straight and very good are sometimes rotten on the inside, and others, huge and clawed and apparently very bad, sometimes contain a pure and sweet form of goodness. The biggest trap is to judge a person by their outer casing. Their skin. Their hair. Their snow-white feather." ___________________End Quote___________________ Ophelia was often encouraged to use her imagination. I think that is the main aspect of this book, the beauty of a child's imagination. This is an excellent children's book that I would love reading to children. It was a fantasy story about Snow Queens, magic swords, wizards and a mysterious machine. But it was also full little bits of wisdom, such as the list of instruction the wizards gave to the Marvelous Boy. ___________________Quote___________________ "Instead she took out the fragile paper containing the words from the Great Wizard. She unfolded the thing piece of paper. The letter was written in a very old-fashioned writing, a little shaky. It was a list. First, always be kind, it read. Be kind to everyone whom you meet along the way, and things will be well. Kindness is far stronger than any cruelty. Always extend your hand in friendship. Be patient. You may feel alone, but there will always be people who will help you along the way. Never, ever give up. Ophelia leaned her cheek against the cold window. She closed her eyes. Your heart, said her mother, very softly in her ear. Use your heart, my dear daughter." ___________________End Quote___________________ I can honestly say that, even at my age, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next on Ophelia's journey through the museum. It was such a delight to read and I, personally, would like to read more stories from Karen Foxlee. She knows how to satisfy a reader's mind and feed the imagination. The book is recommended for children ages 7-12 but I think people of all ages would enjoy it. If you or your child loves imaginative stories that are full of adventure, you'll want to read this book. Highly recommended! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Netgalley for my honest review. The opinions stated are mine alone and are honest and forthright. If I recommend a book you can believe its a book I enjoyed. I received no monetary compensation for this review.
This book is about a girl that need to help a boy and did i tell about twins day so me and this girl are going to be twins and all that so yeah and willi am really really happy.
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is refreshingly 'new'. It seems like sometimes a book becomes popular (for example Twilight, which I loved by the way) and EVERYONE is all of a sudden writing about vampires. This book is magical and mysterious but the story is original and unique. Even though some call this a retelling of the Snow Queen I am not sure I agree. It was fairly predictable (after all I am 39 and not 10) but that didn't make it any less enjoyable for me to read. Even though I knew what was coming I still couldn't wait to turn the page to read all about it. I really liked the characters in this story. They each had their own unique personality and their own way of dealing with things but in the end they are still a family that loves one another. I was a bit disappointed by a couple things at the end but not enough to make me dislike the book. I find myself saying this will be another book I need to add to my collection. I am going to go broke buying books! I have been trying to check books out at the library for my Nook but so many of them lately have been soooo good I want to buy my own copy to share with our children and add to my library of favorite books! This will be one of those!
I bought it for my niece and we both read it. We both loved it! Even as an adult, it's easy to identify with Ophelia. An excellent story, well told.
I have already recommended this story to the local public school library, for a k -8 school. I told the librarian that it is a great story about a girl who finds a friend in the oddest of places. She has to conquer her own fears and find through the process of three steps a key that will free a marvelous boy, who is an eternal child who was attempting to save the world, only to be caught by the Snow Queen he is trying to save the world from. This is a great story that would show the sacrifice of friendship, and the love of true esteem of the quest.
I received this ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or offered to influence or change this review. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy was a cute middle grade novel that I'm sure will be enjoyed by many young readers. At its heart, this is the short tale of a sad, lonely girl coming to realize that she is brave. Ophelia has just lost her mother and this has caused a blanket of silence to fall across her and what's left of her family. When her father takes her on a business trip to a museum, her curiosity gets the better of her and she freely roams the building. It doesn't take her long to find the Marvelous Boy, who has been consequently imprisoned there for many years. I think Ophelia reflects the attitude of many children; they sometimes believe that what they do doesn't matter, that they can't make a difference. Ophelia believes she is too small to help the Marvelous Boy and, besides, *insert my disbelief* she has asthma so of course she can't help him. She's quite the skeptic but the Marvelous Boy balances her character very well. The Marvelous Boy has been taught that you should always help someone and that, if you do, things will always work out in the end. There's good in everyone and you should always be kind. He teaches Ophelia to believe in herself. And this point of always being kind to others is actually brought right to the end when Ophelia is face-to-face with a character she has pegged as being very mean and is proved wrong. The messages in Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy were truly wonderful. The overall pacing was great. Foxlee didn't linger in any one place for too long and kept the story moving forward rather quickly without it feeling rushed. Overall, if I were an eight, nine, or ten year old, I think I would have immensely enjoyed this novel.
The real magic in this book is in the writing--so beautifully done. Every word has purpose and meaning and contributes to the whole. I wanted to re-read it just so I could continue to enjoy the lyrical quality of the story. Foxlee's character development is superb, and her world building is truly magical and exquisite. The dual storyline blends seemlessly. I can't recommend this incredible retelling of The Snow Queen highly enough!
I received an ARC of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy from the publisher in exchange for a fair & honest review. When I received Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, I was in the middle of some other books at the time but thought I'd at least sit down and read a couple of chapters to get a feel for the book. Half the book later I realized I needed to set it aside or I wasn't going to be getting to bed at any sort of a reasonable hour that night. Foxlee takes the fairy tale The Snow Queen and gives it a lightly modern spin. In an unnamed town, Ophelia's father has taken a job organizing an exhibit of swords at an unnamed museum, being the international expert on swords that he is. Ophelia and her sister, Alice, try to find ways to amuse themselves while their father is hard at work on the exhibit. Exploring on her own one day, Ophelia discovers a young boy locked away in a room deep in the sprawling museum. She befriends the boy, and the story he tells her of how he came to be locked away in the room in the museum with the name the Marvelous Boy is its own story within the story. As Ophelia journeys through the museum on various quests to help the Marvelous Boy escape so that he can finally defeat the Snow Queen, she creates her own fairy tale. There are elements here that will be familiar with all readers of fairy tales, but Foxlee handles them all beautifully, so that you don't really feel like you are treading too familiar water. I found myself re-reading entire chapters because I simply loved the way that Foxlee was telling Ophelia's story. It's a middle grade book, so there are elements that are fairly predictable and foreshadowed rather heavily, but even knowing how the story was going to end, I still enjoyed every bit of it. There is an ethereal quality to the story that is both charming and magical. I don't want to give too much away about the ending, but I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Ophelia doesn't try to handle everything on her own, as in other young reader books. I find that annoying. I suppose it's to instill a sense of independence in young readers, but sometimes there are things in life that are just too much for a young person to handle, and it's perfectly normal to go to your parents for help, which Ophelia does. This was refreshing for me. I think anyone who enjoys a good fairy tale and a beautifully written story will absolutely enjoy this book. Highly recommended!
What a fantastic story with wizards, magical birds, queens and swords. I loved the story within the story and I threw myself inside the museum as Ophelia scrambled through the halls with her superglue and her heart racing, as she wondered just who or what she was going to encounter as she tried to unlock the mystery of The Mysterious Boy. As the family arrives in the new city, Ophelia and her sister Alice must keep themselves occupied while their father gets the museum ready for the grand opening for an exhibit called the Battle: The Greatest Exhibition of Swords in the History of the World. Alice has not been the same since their mother passed away and is content to be alone while Ophelia is the explorer. They count the hours and the days since her passing and it is sad but at the same time, you realize just how much they depended upon her. Alice starts to bond with a member of the museum and this bonding seems innocent since she is missing her mother but as Ophelia discovers there is a twist to this relationship. Since their father is the curator at the museum, Ophelia has lots of places to explore there and having free reign of the place, she spends her days checking out the exhibits and rooms. Having guards that knit and take naps, this makes sneaking into places easier for Ophelia. If it weren’t for her curiosity, Ophelia never would have made her way across the checkered floor to find the golden keyhole. As she peered inside the hole, “She did not expect to be looking straight into a large blue-green eye.” That moment, that single moment changes Ophelia forever. Ophelia meets The Marvelous Boy. As The Marvelous Boy reveals his tale of wizards, magical birds, the Snow Queen, and a host of other magical beings, Ophelia must scurry about the museum locating items to free him and save the world. It’s a magical tale that will keep your imagination soaring and lead you on an incredible journey. This story would make a perfect read-aloud for elementary age children. Thank you NetGalley for providing me a copy of this book.
What would you do if you met a boy who asked you to help him “save the world?” Not likely to happen, you think. Maybe not, unless you’re eleven-year-old Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who never dreamed she‘d soon be searching for a key and a sword to help a boy do just that. But there she is, risking her very life to help a three-hundred-and-three-year old boy, without a name. Author Karen Foxlee has written a whimsical tale of magic, blessings, evil, and a mother’s love. In her middle grade novel, OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY, the author tells the story of Ophelia, who encounters the boy quite accidentally. When he tells her he’s a prisoner of the Snow Queen and must escape to find his magical sword and the One Other, or he’ll die within three days, Ophelia sets out in search of the key to free him from his prison. Things do not run smoothly for Ophelia, as you might imagine. She faces one danger after another. She cannot turn to her father or sister, Alice, for help. And the time is growing short for her to succeed in her quest. Ophelia’s mother, however, who passed away a short time earlier, is always there for her daughter, whispering to her, encouraging, and advising her what to do. Well-developed characters take the reader back to a magical age of fantasy and fairy tales where you find yourself lost in their world, searching with the characters for a happy ending. The setting of the museum brings to life the different displays, the animals that seem to move but are only statues. Or are they? If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself holding your breath when all seems lost and Ophelia will be unable to save the boy. Will she succeed, or will he fade away, his life ended? OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY will make a nice addition to school libraries and classrooms. Why not pick up a copy or two for your own children’s library and enjoy a wild adventure into fantasyland? An e-copy of this book was provided to me by Random House Children’s Books and Net Galley for my honest review. ###
A modern-day version of The Snow Queen that attempts to blends science and fantasy while retaining the prose of a fairy tale. Ophelia, the main character, is very analytical, using science to work her way out of fantastical situations that occur after her Dad temporarily uproots her sister and her for a temp-job at a museum. I enjoyed the scientific reasoning that Ophelia used to work her way out of sticky situations. I wish there was more of it. For instance, Ophelia is constantly puffing her asthma inhaler when she's in a tight spot. Kids with asthma, who also have a good understanding of their condition, might enjoy reading about a character they can relate to - I know there's a link between asthma and anxiety, but what about the kids who don't know that or who know nothing about asthma? This book missed a teaching opportunity about a very common condition. Fast descriptions were well-delivered for the familiar elements of the real world found in the story, but this technique didn't translate well for the fantastical elements and felt sparse. I had a difficult time imagining the misery birds and the Marvelous Boy. I received a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review from NetGalley so this element may be changed in the final version of the book - I didn't like the Marvelous Boy or how his back-story is delivered. With Ophelia, we see what she sees but when the Marvelous Boy takes center stage, he literally tells her (and us) his back-story, which I found overly long and incredibly dull.
What happens when a young girl who only believes in what can be proven becomes part of a magical world where an evil snow queen entraps a young boy and she must try to set him free? Wandering the halls and rooms of a huge museum, Ophelia’s natural curiosity at finding a locked door and then peeking through the keyhole will set her off on a journey and an adventure she could never have imagined. Written to entice middle grade readers into the world of reading, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee is an adventure in a fairytale world where anything can happen and magical spells can be cast! Ophelia is an unlikely heroine, although book smart, she lacks self-confidence, but her will to win grows with each page! She has the pluck and determination of youth when tested and as each page turns, she blossoms. The Marvelous Boy was once a favored ward of a kind King, but the Evil Queen cast an evil spell that kept the Boy trapped within his small room. Is this adventure a much needed balm for Ophelia’s heart after the death of her mother? Karen Foxlee has found the perfect recipe for reading, with beautiful detail that does not overpower the senses or slow the reading flow. While filling in the mystery of the Marvelous Boy carefully throughout, she has woven a tale that of friendship, trust, and loyalty while facing fears and never giving up, no matter what, because one way or another, there is always a way to succeed if you try hard enough. I received an ARC edition from Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House Children's in exchange for my honest review.
NOTE: I won this ARC in a giveaway, and Random House mailed it to my house in exchange for an honest review! Honestly, I have been avoiding writing this review. I finished reading Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy today at lunch (yes, I read at school. I am well aware that that makes me a book nerd), and my friends were telling me to calm down because I was freaking out over the ending. I haven't read any other reviews yet because I don't want someone else's thoughts and opinions to infiltrate my review, but from what skim reading I did on some reviews I don't think I saw anyone talk about how the ending was stupefying. I can truly say that I don't know if what happened was real or not. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the end just doesn't really tell you whether or not Ophelia imagined all of the events with the Marvelous Boy or if they really happened. I honestly liked this part of the book; it made me question everything that happened in the book. But I've been dreading this review, because I'm not quite sure what I thought of the book overall. That's why it's getting my default three stars. First thing's first: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy did not read like a children's fiction book or even a middle grade book. I've read Percy Jackson. I know what middle grade sounds like. This book is not it. Foxlee's writing is just so marvelous (to be punny), and quite frankly it's a beautiful prose. There's a certain finesse to her writing style that makes me just want to read more, if not for the story but for the writing. Second thing, although the writing wowed me, the story line did not. I will admit it was interesting enough, but it didn't instantly grab me. It's similar to Narnia with the Snow Queen and magical sword and immortal children (are immortal children in Narnia?). This didn't bother me all that much, but I definitely noticed it. My friends read the back of the book and agreed. Also, I wasn't too fond of the Marvelous Boy's flashbacks. At first they were funny, insightful, and I liked them, but as the book drug along, I didn't quite feel as enthralled. I think they started to become less adventurous and more like info-dumping. I don't read much middle grade, so I'm not sure if the predictability of the genre is apparent in all the books, but this book was way too predictable. Painfully predictable, even. The true identity of the Snow Queen at the end of the novel is revealed as if it was a big secret all along when I had guessed it the first time the Snow Queen made an appearance in the book. Also, the "plot twists" weren't all that twisty, so to speak. Before this review gets too lengthy, I just want to add that I didn't dislike this book, hence the three stars. It was enjoyable to me. I think that if the story was longer and we, the readers, had more time to connect with the character that we wouldn've been more emotionally invested in their lives and cared more for how things played out in the end. The most invested I got was at the end when the big secret on the Marvelous Boy's name ISN'T REVEALED and when I don't know whether or not the Marvelous Boy was even real to begin with. In conclusion, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy isn't one of my most highly recommended books, but I do not regret reading it. I already got one of my friends to read it when it hits shelves tomorrow. This book would most likely be enjoyed by people who like short, adventure/fantasy books.