“Hazel, our dear sweet imaginative Hazel; you may be only eleven, but you are wise beyond your years. Who else could stare adversity in the face and tell it “no, you’re wrong, I’m right and I’ll PROVE it” without completely losing their cool? Okay, grant it…the pencil box incident in school didn’t make it crystal clear but hey, you’re BEST friend had been hurt, possibly by you, and they were cracking jokes? Uncalled for in my book and apparently yours. The depths to which you feel things even when your own little world isn’t so picture book perfect is amazing and just goes to show that in any situation, it’s all about perspective. Being able to see that light at the end of the tunnel turns it from a runaway train to a glimmer of hope and fuels our hearts to keep trying, keep reaching for that sunny day. You taught us that through your adventure in a mere 313 pages. Thank you.
Jack, oh Jack…you’ve been dealt a bad hand, it’s true; but despite how hopeless it may seem, others have been in your shoes before and will be once again. Escape may be found through hardening your heart and not allowing anyone in, but true happiness will not. It needs the heart to make it function, allow it grow into something we want to hold on to. It may hurt or be hurt sometimes, but that’s all a part of life. Growing up was never said to be an easy thing, nor the lessons life will throw our way. It’s the joy we manage to steal from each day and the friends we surround ourselves with that make it all worth while. So use your drawings, create worlds within worlds, and let your imagination roam free…just don’t lose sight of the things that tether you to THIS world because those are what’s truly worth fighting for.
Adelaide and Uncle Martin, you are memorable though your time in the spotlight is short. You help a young girl see with not just her eyes, but with her mind ultimately giving her permission to use her gift of imagination fully. Hazel’s Mom (sorry, I didn’t catch your name…), though things are tough and you may not understand your child’s way of coping with it all, you try…and in parenting that counts for A LOT. The simple promise you made to Hazel about ballet lessons in spite of the hardships you’re currently facing…wonderful…and it will stick with her the next time you and her don’t see eye to eye. As for you little Miss Snow Queen….you are what you are and you are evil at that. It’s not your fault per se…perhaps you were born that way or something happened to you so many years ago it’s been forgotten, but in either case a frozen heart may as well be no heart at all…tisk tisk for all you’ve done.
The world created within this story is varied with different aspects of fairytales past peaking through time and again, while still being grounded in the here and now. The snowy blanket throughout the town creates a magical feeling of endless possibilities and a playground for children with active imaginations (with or without the harm that comes from a shard of magic mirror). Each character introduced has a memorable role to play no matter how small and the ingenuity that Hazel employs in their presence all in the name of getting her friend back is something to see. You’ll shrivel from the sight of the old woman who longed for beauty and youth…and got something else entirely. You’ll embrace the friendship offered by the strapping lad of similar age…that keeps a fine cabin in the midst of a dark and lonely wood. You’ll be tempted in by the warm glow of the fire and two guardians to which you could…belong. There’s a surprise around every corner and almost nothing is as it seems…but with Hazel in the lead, you couldn’t be in better company.
In summary, a book for all ages that speaks of the inevitable (growing up, that is) and helps define what true friendship is…and isn’t. It ISN’T something to be taken for granted or left unacknowledged day after day. It ISN’T a feeling that should be thrown around flippantly and without care. It IS that close group of people (or an individual) we hold dear to our hearts and would do anything for. It IS that connection we have with another that goes unspoken at times and yet beats with a heart as fierce as a warrior. It IS a feeling of happiness we share with another that does not expect anything in return; thereby making what is reciprocated, that much sweeter.
Recommended reading for middle grade readers through adults. The many fairytale aspects to the story will appeal to young readers and be familiar to those of a certain age, but without the déjà vu effect because this tale certainly stands on its own two feet. ”
GMR wrote this review Thursday, November 17, 2011.