Abby and her brother, Jonah, don’t plan to use the magic mirror. But when their dog, Prince, jumps into the mirror, they only have one choice—go in after him.
Abby and Jonah land in a snow-covered winter wonderland. At first, they think they might be in Disney’s Frozen fairy tale. But this fairy tale is nothing like the movie! Instead, they are thrown into the cold world of the Ice Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. This Snow Queen is super creepy and mean, and she turns Prince into a dogsicle!
In this adventure, Abby and Jonah have to defrost their furry friend, ride a very chatty reindeer, learn to ice-skate and escape from a band of robbers. If they’re not careful, they could end up frozen!
The story starts with Abby at school where she has a confrontation with one of her best friends, Robin. Abby is hurt that Robin has been spending time with Penny. Abby gives Robin an ultimatum, “We’re your best friends. Me and Frankie. Not Penny. Penny isn’t nice. . . You can’t be Penny’s best friend and our best friend, too.” The fairy tale world connects to Abby’s school problem. Through Abby’s experiences, she learns that “of course people can have more than one best friend. . . Maybe it wasn’t very fair of me to say that Robin had to choose between us and Penny.”
One negative aspect of the story is that Abby and Jonah have been lying to their parents. Finally, the guilt gets the best of Abby and she realizes, “You’re never supposed to listen to someone who tells you to lie to your parents! Everyone knows that! People who tell you to lie to your parents are always the ones who are up to no good.” However, when Abby finally tells her parents the truth, the fairy in the mirror, Maryrose, erases the parents’ memory.
The two siblings balance each other out nicely. Jonah is impulsive, annoying, silly, and fun, while Abby is bossy, worried, and always wants to have a plan. Anyone who has a sibling will understand how Abby gets frustrated with her brother. The interplay between the two siblings adds a little humor and Abby’s inner dialogue helps keep the conflict in sharp focus. While the story isn’t always logical, younger readers will enjoy the ridiculous aspects of the story. The conclusion ends with a surprise that will have readers reaching for the next book in the series, Beauty Queen.
Most of the Whatever After books use the same formula and may begin to bore older readers. If your child is ready to move on to another fairytale inspired series, both Fairy Tale Reform School and Royal Academy Rebels by Jen Calonita would make an excellent choice.
- Abby summarizes the original fairy tale, The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. The Snow Queen kidnaps a boy and puts him under a spell. When Jonah and Abby meet a boy, they know he is under the Snow Queen’s spell because he has “zombie eyes.”
- Abby and Jonah are kidnapped by a band of robbers. The robbers put them in a basement that is “cold and damp. There’s no furniture. Just a pile of brown blankets in the corner. Water leaking from the ceiling has frozen into threatening-looking icicles.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Abby and her brother Jonah have a magic mirror that allows them to go into the world of fairy tales. “We discovered that when we knock on our basement mirror three times, it takes us into a fairy tale. Well, first the mirror starts to hiss, then it casts a purple light over the room, then it starts to swirl, and then it sucks us into a fairy tale.”
- While in the fairy tale world, time passes differently. “Sometimes a day in a fairy tale is an hour at home. Sometimes an hour in a fairy tale is an hour at home. The watches we [Abby and Jonah] wear from home keep track of the time back there.”
- The Snow Queen blows on Abby’s dog, Prince. “With her lips rounded, the Snow Queen looks like she’s blowing a kiss. But it’s not a kiss. I can actually see the air that comes out of her mouth. It’s like steam from a kettle. A tiny white tornado.” When the air hits Prince, “he freezes in mid-motion.”
- Ralph is a talking reindeer who can fly.
- The Snow Queen explains how she gained her powers by breaking a magical mirror over her head.
- Maryrose, the fairy in the mirror, casts a spell erasing Abby’s parents’ memory. Jonah’s memory is also accidentally erased.