Once Upon a MarigoldOnce Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
HMH Books for Young Readers

A Review by Anna Heinly, Age 8

A forest troll named Ed finds a young boy named Christian. Christian had run away from home. He did not want to go back. Ed says Christian can stay with him for one night, but Christian ends up staying in the cave with Ed and his two dogs, Bub and Cate until he grows up. One day while he was looking in his telescope, Christian saw a princess named Marigold. Christian wrote her a letter and sent it by pigeon. Marigold read the letter and p-mailed back. They became best friends. Ed was worried. Soon it was time for Christian to get a job. He got a job fixing things at the castle and had lots of adventures.

Marigold’s mom, Queen Olympia, was forcing her to get married. Marigold was upset. She did not want to get married. Christian was sad, too because he wanted to marry her, but she could only marry royalty. Christian would have to find a way to be with Marigold.

I loved everything in the story. Ed always gets idioms mixed up. It is hilarious. Bub and Cate and Marigold’s dogs (the three floor mops) are silly. Queen Mab is the Tooth Fairy. She always gets lost on her way to collect people’s teeth. That is funny, too. Queen Olympia orders everyone around. That was entertaining. It was also funny when Rollo the guard got mad because Meg kissed Christian. There is nothing about this book I do not like. It is the best book in the world!

A Review by Kasey Giard

Christian is a young inventor living in the forest with his foster father, a troll named Ed. Life is pretty sweet until the day Christian discovers the lonely Princess Marigold and decides to send her a message via carrier pidgeon (p-mail). To Christian’s surprise, the princess replies to his message and the two become best friends. If only that were enough for Christian. As he comes of age and sets out to make his way in the world, Christian seeks work at the castle where Marigold lives, even though he knows he’ll never be able to have a relationship with her since he will be no more than a servant. Then Christian uncovers a vicious plot to kill Marigold, and he can’t sit by and do nothing. But how can a commoner do anything to save the princess?

Once Upon a Marigold is a spunky, cute fairytale story about having courage to do what’s right to protect the people important to you and the meaning of true friendship. Ferris cleverly weaves a whimsical world in which a forest troll wants to break the Tooth Fairy’s monopoly on collecting teeth, even though she constantly gets lost. Full of silliness and heart, this is a great story to share with middle readers.

Language
None

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
The princess is under a curse of uncertain origin: when someone touches her, she knows their thoughts. She and Christian briefly discuss their astrological signs, and the fact that they share the same sign is viewed as a confirmation of their relationship.

Violent Content
A flying machine crashes, causing some minor injuries. A character is struck with an arrow that must be removed. Nothing graphic.

Drug Content
None

Anna Heinly, Kasey GiardAbout the Bloggers
Anna Heinly is a third grade student. She enjoys reading, riding her cousin’s scooter, playing with her cousins, and having adventures. She also enjoys riding bikes with her cousins. This is her first review.
Read about Kasey Giard here.

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The Mysterious HowlingFifteen-year-old Penelope Lumley has been summoned to her first interview for her first governess position. As a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females and armed with the pithy and wise sayings of the school’s founder, Agathe Swanburne, Penelope is ready for anything.

When she is greeted by the skittish household at Ashton Place, however, and confronted by the strange howling children who are scarcely clad, Penelope realizes it will take all her training, education, and her fond memories of books about wild ponies, to handle this task. She will not be deterred. Not by the children’s wild fervor over chasing squirrels. Not by the unusual names (Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia) bestowed on them by Lord Ashton himself. When Lady Constance plans an extravagant Christmas party that the children must attend, Penelope puts aside her plans for geography and mathematics in favor of table manners and appropriate dinner conversation. If only she can figure out what the Schottische is and prepare the children for it, she might have a chance at keeping her job with the children she has grown to love.

Not every governess is willing to take on three children who were raised by wolves. Literally. Now that they’ve been “rescued” from the forest by Lord Ashton, the children must be civilized and educated. Penelope sets herself to the task and achieves often hilarious and endearing results in this first book in a series which has been described as a mash-up of Lemony Snicket and Jane Eyre. The Mysterious Howling is brilliant and fun.

Language Content
None.

Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violence
None.

Drug Content
When the children become the center of attention at the Christmas party, Lady Constance copes by drinking too much champagne and falling asleep at the table.

 

A Deeper Look: Notes from the Blogger

K L Giard

I read this book hoping to find a great audiobook to listen to on our family vacation. To my delight, I found it to be a wonderful story, one the entire family could enjoy. I found it impossible not to fall in love with Penelope and her three dear charges. The children make it appealing to a younger, more middle-grade audience, but because the tale is told from fifteen-year-old Penelope, it also appeals to teens. Those with challenging babysitting experiences may find it especially amusing.