So, with my afternoon plans shot to heck, I picked up Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee. The opening reads like a fairy tale about a boy who is imprisoned by a cruel and beautiful queen from the North.
Then we meet Ophelia, her father and her older sister, Alice. They have moved from London to a place where it always snows. Wait! Haven't I read this somewhere before? Does Ophelia find a magic door? Was this written by a Danish folklorist?
Foxlee takes the story of Andersen's Snow Queen and twists it just enough to make a enjoyable read. Ophelia and her family are grieving the loss of Ophelia's mother. It is days before Christmas and Ophelia's father, Mr. Whittard, has taken a temporary assignment in a huge museum in a frozen city. He must catalog and arrange an impressive collection of swords. His daughters, teenaged Alice, and 11 year-old Ophelia, are to keep each other amused. Alice can't seem to rise above her grief to watch Ophelia. Alice's misery makes her a victim later on.
Ophelia is a practical child and knows magic doesn't exist. So when she finds the door and looks through the keyhole, she can't believe the boy she sees trapped inside. She doesn't believe the story he tells her. And yet, she feels compelled to help him. This sudden display of bravery frightens Ophelia more than the adventure itself. And it is quite an adventure. Releasing that boy may save the entire world!
The book is written for middle grade readers - 4th through 6th grade. Fairy tale lovers of all ages will enjoy it. The "lost in a museum" setting is always fun. Who knows what we might find in this gallery, or down this hallway?