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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy is a modern-day version of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen." It features a heroine, Ophelia, whose mother recently died and whose family is still having a hard time adjusting to her absence. Ophelia's father and sister are emotionally distant, and Ophelia is left to deal with her loss on her own. Ophelia faces scary situations such as talking to ghosts, dealing with flesh-eating "misery birds," and facing museum exhibits that come to life. When Ophelia goes to her father and sister to tell them of the dangers she's facing, they don't believe her, and both succumb to the charms of a woman whom Ophelia feels sure is up to no good.
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What's the story?
Ophelia, her father, and her sister are feeling lost after the death of Ophelia's mother only three months earlier. When her father takes a job as curator of a sword exhibit in an unnamed, foreign snowy city, Ophelia is left on her own to explore the vast museum. She immediately discovers the Marvelous Boy locked away in a little room and reluctantly accepts the task of rescuing him and thus preventing the end of the world. Each time she sees the boy, he tells a little bit more of the tale of how he came to be captured by the Snow Queen. The story within a story inspires Ophelia to be braver than she thinks she is, and the dangers she faces help her overcome her reluctance to believe in anything that cannot be scientifically proven. Her adventures finally bring her back to her family and help remind all of them that love is the greatest power.
Is it any good?
Despite her own lack of faith in her bravery, Ophelia is immensely likable, and readers of OPHELIA AND THE MARVELOUS BOY will have no trouble believing in her even when she doubts herself. Her quest moves along at a brisk pace, the tension increased by the huge clock counting down the hours before the end of the world. Although the Marvelous Boy's fairy tale-like origin story is less exciting than Ophelia's, it adds the necessary magical element that helps Ophelia learn to follow her heart and live with her loss.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy has fairy-tale elements but takes place in the real world. Is this more appealing to you than classic fairy tales that take place in a magical land? Why?
Do you see any similarities between Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy and the movie Frozen, which was also (loosely) inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen"? What are the main differences?
Have you ever had a bad feeling about a grown-up like Ophelia does about Miss Kaminski? What did you do about it?
- Author: Karen Foxlee
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Fairy Tales
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf
- Publication date: January 28, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 240
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love fairy tales
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