Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Review of Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
by Karen Foxlee
Expected Publication: January 28, 2014
Knopf Books for Young Readers
240 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Disclosure: Digital copy obtained from

Goodreads Summary
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.

A Bit More
I would describe this book as From the Mixed up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler meets Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen. Middle grade readers will love this quick-moving fantasy. I like that the protagonist is a little girl. Ophelia does not start out as a particularly brave girl, but overcomes her fears to help her new friend, The Marvelous Boy. The boy's name was taken from him in order to protect him after wizards discovered that he is destined to  rid the world of The Snow Queen. Ophelia must face many dangers, frightening magical creatures and the evil museum curator in her quest to find the keys to unlock the boy's room and find the sword that will finally slay The Snow Queen. 

My Thoughts
The author writes perfectly for middle grade students by using enough description of the action to paint a clear picture without being too graphic. The characters are very well developed.  You can't help but root for Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy to prevail. Ophelia is a character that would be valuable to study closely.  What does it say about her depth of character that she is willing to risk her life to save a boy she just met? Conversely, the antagonists are written so you really dislike them and can't wait to see what happens in the end.  Students will also benefit from seeing how the three family members are dealing with the loss of their mother/wife each in their own unique way. 

Students who like fantasy will enjoy this book. However, since much of the story takes place in the realistic world with real people, many students who tend not to read much fantasy will want to give it a try.  I would most recommend Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy to students in grades 3-5. 
It would make a fantastic read aloud for those grades as well. 

See what others are saying about Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy
Publishers Weekly
Reading and Sharing

This is the third book from Australian Writer Karen Foxlee. Click here to see her other books.  




  1. Hi Gigi! We met at NCTE at the Nerdy Book Club meet up. I'm so excited to read Ophelia! I've seen lots of good reviews. I'm going to start a unit on Journeys and we're using modern-day fairytale-esque books for book groups. This one would be a perfect fit. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Of course I remember you Megan, Holly's friend. I think your kids will love this book. Which others are you planning to use?