Magic Tree House
Junie B. Jones
★ Ophelia is a grieving 11-year-old who only believes in things that science can explain. Following her beloved mother’s death, her father takes a job at an enormous museum in a city where it constantly snows. There Ophelia discovers the imprisoned Marvelous Boy, who discloses to her that in three days the Snow Queen will discharge her wretchedness on mankind. He further reveals that he must save the world before that happens and that only Ophelia can help him. As the boy tells his story, Ophelia accepts the challenges required to release him from his three-hundred-year captivity. She faces magical snow leopards, child ghosts, a Spanish conquistador, and a monstrous misery bird—none of which, like the boy, can be scientifically explained. Nevertheless, Ophelia learns there are truths she never dreamed of and that courage is less about bravery than about the decision to help people in need. Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, this clever story-within-a-story reads easily yet offers deep lessons about trust, responsibility, and friendship. – Booklist
★ Eleven-year-old Ophelia faces her fears to help a nameless boy imprisoned in a surreal museum by the evil Snow Queen in this contemporary fairy tale.
An asthmatic girl who believes in science and eschews fantasy, Ophelia’s curious but admittedly not very brave. Grieving her mother’s recent death, Ophelia arrives in a snowy “foreign city” with her father and sister. While her curator father organizes an exhibition of swords, Ophelia wanders the vast museum until she discovers “The Marvelous Boy,” trapped by the Snow Queen for three centuries in a hidden room. A spell preventing the Snow Queen from killing the boy expires in three days, when he will die and the world will freeze unless Ophelia can free him, locate his magical sword and identify the “One Other” to defeat the Snow Queen. Though she’s unsure she believes the boy’s fantastical story, Ophelia gradually heeds an inner voice urging her to follow her heart. Alternating between Ophelia’s bizarre quest to save the boy and the retelling of his story, the intense plot moves Ophelia beyond grief to fulfill what she realizes is her destiny. Armed with her inhaler, practical Ophelia proves a formidable heroine in a frozen landscape.
A well-wrought, poignant and original reworking of Andersen’s “The Snow Queen.” – Kirkus Reviews
★ In this appropriately frosty take on The Snow Queen, Foxlee (The Midnight Dress) introduces 11-year-old Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard, who’s asthmatic, pragmatic, curious, and braver than she realizes. Ophelia’s family, shattered after her mother’s death, is visiting an unnamed snowy city so her father can curate an exhibition of swords. Exploring the strange, icy, and nearly empty museum, Ophelia discovers the long-imprisoned Marvelous Boy, who recruits her to help him save the world from the Snow Queen; she also turns up a cluster of deadly “misery birds” and a roomful of the ghosts of numerous girls. Foxlee’s writing is elegant and accessible, with a pervading melancholy; this is as much a story of loss as it is an adventure. Certain elements, such as the identity of the Snow Queen, aren’t really surprises, but it’s in Foxlee’s evocation of the museum’s unsettling dangers, as well as Ophelia’s eventual willingness to reconcile what she knows in her mind with what she feels in her heart, that this story shines. – Publishers Weekly