Foxlee, Karen. Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
January 28th 2014
by Knopf Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Ophelia and her sister Alice have come to live in a city where it is always cold and snowy so that their museum curator father can work on an exhibit of his specialty-- swords. He feels it is a good change of scenery for the girls, who are still suffering from the death of their mother. Ophelia spends a lot of time investigating the museum, even though another museum worker, Miss Kaminski, says it could be dangerous, because girls have gotten lost and never been found. Ophelia finds a locked room that holds a strange boy who claims to have no name, and during various visits, he recounts how he came to be held prisoner. He was enchanted, and told that he had to save the world from the Snow Queen, but he has to rely on Ophelia to find various keys and swords to fight her off. In the meantime, their father is distracted by the exhibit, Alice has become enthralled with the strange Miss Kaminski, and almost too late does Ophelia realize the danger they are all in.
Strengths: There was something about this book that made me think that teachers and librarians would think it was the best thing ever, so I knew I had to read it. It had its moments, and it would be good for a unit of fairy tale adaptations, since it involves the Snow Queen. If you or your students liked Ursu's The Real Boy or Breadcrumbs or Prineas' Winterling, definitely pick this up.
Weaknesses: I found Ophelia to be a rather weak and uninteresting character. Her most memorable feature was her need to take "a squirt on her puffer", a phrase that is repeated frequently. (It refers to her asthma inhaler.) This isn't the sort of book either I or my students care for, so I will pass on purchasing, but I see this getting a lot of love.
Some people who were fonder of it than I was include:
The Late Bloomers Blog
She Dreams in Fiction
Views from the Tesseract
Waking Brain Cells