Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

4.4 13
by Karen Foxlee, Jayne Entwistle

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“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

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“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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
In Foxlee’s take on “The Snow Queen,” 11-year-old Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard, who is still grieving her mother’s death, travels to an unnamed snowy city where her father has taken a job at a strange museum. There, Ophelia meets a boy in a locked room. The Marvelous Boy has been a prisoner of the Snow Queen for years, and he asks Ophelia to help him save the world. Narrator Entwistle shines in this entertaining audio edition. With an accented voice, steady pacing, and a crisp delivery, Entwistle ably captures the magic and fun of Foxlee’s tale. The voices Entwistle lends Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy are spot-on, while she also produces a host of distinct and appropriate voices for the book’s other characters. Ages 8-12. A Knopf hardcover. (Jan.)
The New York Times Book Review - Elizabeth Spires
It happens all the time in children's literature: Beloved parents die, and their sons and daughters have to come to terms with their loss. In Karen Foxlee's Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, this premise is explored in an original and fantastical manner, as Foxlee…deftly borrows and transforms elements from Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen…Everyone loves a villainess…and young readers will relish the depiction of a modern-day snow queen in the guise of the beautiful, evil Miss Kaminski. But their allegiance will be with Ophelia, a plucky heroine who changes from a hardheaded rationalist who believes only in facts to a girl who learns to trust her emotional, imaginative side.
Publishers Weekly
★ 11/11/2013
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.)
From the Publisher
The Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2014:
“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."

School Library Journal
★ 03/01/2014
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
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-20
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)

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Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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