November 19, 2017

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Pick of the Day: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

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Ophelia and the Marvelous BoyFoxlee, Karen. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. 240p. Knopf. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385753548. LC 2013012236.
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

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