Once Upon a Marigold



Delightfully offbeat fairytale full of surprises.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The hero, Christian, throws the occasional tantrum when he is young and there is some fighting, however the majority of characters display positive behavior. The evil queen lives up to her name, but all negative actions receive the proper punishment.


Innocent people are dragged off to the dungeons. People are frequently banished from the kingdom. A man is punched by a giant. A woman plots to kill two people either through an accident or poison. There is mention of hunting animals for food.


Typical fairytale romance with several weddings.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults are shown drinking wine, typical for the time in which the story took place.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know this book has some classic fairytale situations including romance and an evil queen. There is talk of love, marriage, adoption, and murder by poison.

What's the story?

Christian and Edric the troll's paths cross one day when Christian runs away from his uptight family. Determined never to go back, Christian makes Edric and his two dogs, Beezlebub and Hecate, his family. They live a good life until Christian falls in love with Princess Marigold and decides that he should see more of the world -- the world around Marigold's castle. When Christian discovers a plot against Marigold and her father, he enlists his family to help break out of prison, prevent Marigold's arranged marriage, foil Queen Olympia's murderous plot, reunite several families, and reveal his true and forgotten identity. Oh, and learn about Princess Marigold's curse, whew!

Is it any good?


Quirky characters, fun and unusual elements, and surprising plot twists make ONCE UPON A MARIGOLD a must read for tweens. Jean Ferris has created magic in this fun-spun fairytale. There's royalty and weddings, fashion and trolls, plots and action, a geography-challenged tooth fairy, and inventions, p-mails, triplets, crystals, and a sick ficus.

Ferris' plot may be more tangled than the tooth fairy's maps (which is why she's always lost), but it all comes together wonderfully in the end. And while part of it is predictable -- it's a fairytale after all -- the details of the conclusion are anything but. Kids and parents will love the modern twists and delight in the details Ferris uses to richly embroider this tale.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be a family. Do you need to be related to be a family? In what ways does Edric act like a parent toward Christian? Do you know someone that has a non-traditional family?

Book details

Author:Jean Ferris
Genre:Fairy Tale
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:June 1, 2004
Number of pages:272
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent Written byAnimalFarm August 23, 2011

Dull, boring and unexciting.

This book is dull, boring and unexciting. It was one of three choices of compulsory summer reading for 7th graders, and while it was the lesser of the three evils, still it's not a very good book. It's lackluster, the characters are extremely superficial, you never really find out why the main character ran away from home at 6 years old, other than he said he didn't like rules... The dialogue between characters lacks depth, it's especially corny between Christian and Marigold. A 7-year old might find it somewhat appealing, but for a 7th grader it's very dull. If the purpose of making kids read is to teach them to love to read, this book definitely achieves the opposite.
Kid, 11 years old November 7, 2010


A nice tale. I think that most kids(girls at least) should read this. On a scale of 1-10, I rate it an 11.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byAcacia J December 19, 2011

Good read

This book was a great read. Despite what other reviews might say, the weddings were talked about as if they were average day events, nothing special (there was only one kiss). This book displays love (nothing intense), friendship, family, loyalty and many other great things to learn from. Queen Olympia is where the more edgy things come in. So she has plans to possibly murder her daughter and husband if they get in her way for the throne. She is a tad bit violent (no blood or bruises) , she is rude, she doesn't treat her family they way they should be treated. But she gets her proper punishment showing the kids that what she was doing was wrong. Overall, this is a good book and I don't think that there is anything you need to shield your kids from.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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