It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!
I was so pleased that I was able to get to two chapter books that I have heard such great things about. The first is Karen Foxlee’s Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy. To be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to reading another fantasy book, the genre has become rather stale for me, with too many Hunger Game “wanna be’s” that my kids want to read, which means I need to read them, too. So, I picked up Ophelia (which is described in the jacket copy as being a retelling of the Snow Queen) reluctantly, and then could not put it down.
Ophelia and her sister Alice are brought to a mysterious city where it never stops snowing by their father – a museum curator with a specialty in swords. All three of them are still grieving over the loss of the sisters’ mother, although in different ways. Ophelia is adventurous, strong willed, and a great believer in science and provable facts. Then she stumbles upon a secret room in which a mysterious boy seems to have been locked away for hundreds of years. The boy, however, knows who she is, and believes that only she, Ophelia, can help him find the key to end his imprisonment…and then defeat the Snow Queen AND save the world. Although the story has a certain predictability, it is so beautifully told. Ophelia is a wonderful character, quirky and full of surprises. Marvelous Boy and his tragic back story – the magic by which he began his quest and then fell into the evil Snow Queen’s hands, is wonderfully crafted. Although I had a fair idea about how the book would end, I loved every bit of it – from the gorgeous descriptions, to the themes of friendship, loyalty, and trust.
I had also heard great things about Amy Timberlake’s One Came Home, all of which were true, for I spent a sleepless night enjoying its company. The book begins when the sheriff rides into town with what everyone believes is the body Georgie Burkhardt’s beautiful, willful sister Agatha who had left town after her beau had broken off their engagement. Everyone seems content to bury Agatha and mourn her…but Georgie is convinced that Agatha is alive, and that since she was the cause of the broken engagement, she would have to ride out into the mountains and find Agatha herself. You can tell that Georgie is a singular young lady from the way she begins this narrative:
So it comes to this, I remember thinking on Wednesday, June 7, 1871. The date sticks in my mid because it was the day of my sister’s funeral and I knew it wasn’t her last – which is why I left. That’s the long and short of it.
But surely, you’d rather hear the long than the short.
Georgie’s adventure takes her into dangerous territory, but she has company – Billy McCabe, Agatha’s one time suitor. Their journey together is sometimes hilarious and sometimes downright terrifying, but Georgie’s indomitable spirit and wry sense of humor carries her through thick and thin. I loved the twists and turns in this story, as well the historical event that forms the backdrop to the story – the period of time in which passenger pigeons first thrived in an abundance in Wisconsin only to become extinct just a few short years later. Here’s how this is described in The Passenger Pigeon Project:
Passenger pigeons once nested in enormous numbers throughout Wisconsin and vast flocks coursed overhead during migration. Many written reports exist of nesting areas, roosts, and huge flocks flying throughout the State. The most complete descriptions are those of the largest recorded nesting of Passenger Pigeons in U.S. history, which occurred in central Wisconsin in 1871.
One Came Home is a wonderful historical fiction novel – it would make an excellent book club selection for the middle grades.