Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee


Normally, I don’t find it difficult putting down a chapter book for kids.  However, Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee and illustrated by Yoko Tanaka hooked me from the beginning.   Thursday night I stayed up late wanting to finish the book.  At 12:30 my eyes couldn’t stay open a minute longer.  When I awakened, I went straight to the book.

Ophelia is an asthmatic, pip-squeak.  This is her story… “In which young Ophelia rescues a magical boy, battles the Snow Queen, and saves the world. ”  From the beginning, we know the heroine prevails.  Even so the story is exciting and fear inducing. Watching this practical, scientific minded girl  move beyond her comfort zone and embrace the magical realm is heart-warming.  It’s a sorrowful book filled with hope.

Ophelia is a matter of fact kind of girl.  I love her straightforwardness. She thinks, “The best way to get to the bottom of things was with questions.” Then asks, “And how can someone take your name from you?  I don’t think it’s really possible.”  You’ll understand these quotes when you read the book.  And you must read this book!

Ophelia is grieving the recent death of her highly creative mother and her father’s inability to outwardly show grief.  Her father is the premier international expert on swords invited to curate an enormous display of swords at a museum in an unnamed frigid city.  With only three days until Wintertide and the unveiling of The Sword Exhibition, he is engrossed in his work.  Leaving his daughters to their own devices.

Ophelia’s mother embraced the world of things not seen.  Listening in her heart to her mother’s creative spirit and using her own practical, scientific mind; Ophelia saves the world.  In the process, she saves her family… her stoic father and her sister who copes with her mother’s death by embracing a shallow world.

Yoko Tanaka’s book jacket and interior illustrations are magical.  You can’t judge a book by the cover, but it’s the cover that led me to opening this book.  Study the illustrations on the book ends before you read the book.  This book is best enjoyed if you know the layout of the enchanted museum.   When you finish, pour over the illustrations again.  You’ll appreciate the physical strain on Ophelia in her fight of good vs evil.

There are a couple of things leading me to believe there may be a sequel.  When Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy say goodbye he asks, “And anyway, don’t you think we’ll meet again?”  Plus we’ve yet to learn his name.  Although when Ophelia was going through various names in her mind, “Something about David felt right.”

Ophelia and The Marvelous Boy is now included on the book list for ML’s Book Club’s 4th grade year.

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