Friday, March 28, 2014

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Knopf Books for Young Readers on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Author: Karen Foxlee
Publication Date: January 28, 2014

My Pre-Reading

Synopsis: A modern-day fairy tale set in a mysterious museum that is perfect for readers of Roald Dahl and Blue Balliett.

Unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard 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 is about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.


Review: The Snow Queen has been really popular in the past year or so for some reason. I'd never heard of it, much less read it, before 2013. And that's really a shame, because it's a really incredible story. And Karen Foxlee's take on it is just as good!

Being promoted as a book for fans of Roald Dahl is a pretty big standard to live up to, but I really think that Foxlee managed to do it. The whole time I was reading Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, I felt like I was in the middle of a Dahl book or even a Narnia book. It has the feel of a classic children's story, but is still relateable to children of the present day. One of my favorite things about this book was that I felt like it could be enjoyed by children young and old. For younger children, Ophelia has the spunk and innocence of someone they can relate to. For the older audience, there's the Marvelous Boy who has lived for hundreds of years but still has the innocence of a child because he's been a prisoner.

I really enjoyed watching Ophelia grow and learn more about herself. Her mother speaks to her and encourages her to step outside her comfort zone, and I think that's really important for children nowadays. Ophelia deals with loss in her own way, but eventually she is able to overcome it and grow into herself and become a more well-rounded individual. At first, she's very strict about believing only in things that can be proved with science. As the story progresses and she travels through the museum though, she begins to accept magic more and more, and I think there's a lesson to be learned there for everyone about believing in things without concrete proof and following your heart.

The story within a story was also really well done, and I really liked learning about the Marvelous Boy as Ophelia learned more about him. I do wish there had been more of him in the present day, but I guess this story is supposed to be more about Ophelia so it's not too bad that his story is mostly in the past. I also really liked that the main story is happening in a museum - it helped add to the mystery and the magical-ness of it all. 

Overall, this was a thoroughly entertaining read that I would definitely suggest to children of all ages! I think it'd be a good one to read together with a child or younger sibling or niece/nephew, etc. I especially think fans of Roald Dahl or C.S. Lewis would really enjoy Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. It's magical and mysterious and fun and a little scary and just everything you'd hope for in a children's book. I'd give it a 4/5!


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