Friday, August 8, 2014

Children's Review: Once Upon a Marigold

{on Goodreads}
Christian is a runaway, living in a forest cave with his foster-father (who just happens to be a troll) and two dogs with big personalities. Though the world that he lives in is full of interesting places and creatures, he's explored little and is starting to feel the need to leave home in search of adventure. He spends his free time writing to Marigold, a lonely princess isolated by a curse. With an ailing father and a dismissive mother, Marigold finds solace in her friendship with her mysterious pen pal. Christian loves everything about Marigold, and would do anything to meet her in person, including taking a job at the castle. When they finally get to meet in real life, Christian uncovers a plot that has Marigold in danger, but in trying to rescue her, he gets himself in a whole mess of trouble. Their hopes of being together lie in the hands of the most unexpected of heroes, as everything they know about their own lives comes into question.

I am a big fan of fairy tales and love quirky spinoffs that question the classic roles of prince and princess, hero and damsel in distress. Though this story doesn't depart too much, the characters themselves are so unique and imaginative that the story feels like a fresh take. In fact, my favorite characters were actually the minor ones, like Queen Mab the frazzled and forgetful toothfairy, and Ed the ambitious troll. Ferris did an excellent job of creating a world in which normal wasn't an option, giving her the freedom to bring anything into play. Not only did I like the humor and just plain silliness of the story, but I was particularly taken with the bits of wisdom that were not-so-subtly slipped into crossroad-type moments for the characters. Ferris clearly had some messages to send to her audience, and even for older readers (like myself), the points to take away are definitely worth thinking about. Although I thought the book had a nice, succinct ending, it's part of a trilogy, and I do plan on reading the next two books.

Recommended for ages 9-12 (Grades 4-7)
Bottom Line Rating 3/5

Title: Once Upon a Marigold
Author: Jean Ferris
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (Reprint), 2013
Price: $6.29 on Amazon
ISBN:  0544054008
Format: Paperback
Source: Public Library
Book #30 of 2014

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