Sunday, March 9, 2014

Books are magical

and this one Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (Jan. 2014) by Karen Foxlee shines with a story told in two parts.  Ophelia is a factual kind of girl; scientific and curious but not magical nor does she feel particularly brave yet on her first day in the museum she meets a young boy locked away behind a small door with a golden keyhole.  Her father, a sword expert, has come to help with a museum display and Ophelia and her sister Alice are to keep out of the way while he works. Alice is too busy missing their recently deceased mother to explore with Ophelia so she goes it alone.  After finding the young boy locked away she struggles to work out the tasks the young boy asks of her and her mother begins to talk to her, urging her onward.  It's a lovely way to demonstrate how our subconscious guides us and keeps her mother close to her.

Ophelia is plucky and perseveres even though she doesn't like needing to be brave. Her basic instinct is to help because it would be unkind to leave the boy locked up so she pushes herself to to find the key to unlock his door. I love that this little heroine needs glasses and a "puffer"to keep her going.

The curator of this massive dilapidated museum is Miss Kaminski, The Snow Queen, and the one who imprisoned the marvelous boy long ago.  The young boy was sent to warn of the Snow Queen and no one believed him.  The King kept him around though because he was just so marvelous.  Even though much time has passed and his friend the King has died he still remembers his story and knows he needs to re-locate the sword that will strike down the Snow Queen and end her icy grip on the land.

A quote:

Ophelia could have walked away.  She could have picked herself up and walked backward from the room.  She could have followed her feet all the way past the stone angels and across the sea monster mosaic.  She could have run down the long hallway of painted girls and squeezed through the crowd in the Gallery of Time.  She could have raced down, down, down the damp, creaking stairs to her father cataloguing and classifying swords.  When Mr. Whittard would ask her what she'd been doing, she could have said, "Absolutely nothing.  It's very boring here."

But she didn't.  She walked on her knees slowly toward the keyhole.
"What do you want? she asked. (15)

She thinks about giving up several times yet the idea of the boy locked away keeps her going.  Lucky for us she finishes her task. With plenty of action and a thoughtful heroine this book was an exciting read and it is perfect for 3rd grade-6th grade students interested in fantasy or fairy tales.

Karen Foxlee, an Australian writer, had worked as a nurse before going back to school for her writing degree.  Publisher's Weekly has this great interview with her.  I'm sure she made a wonderful nurse but I'm quite happy she began to write...

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