________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 35. . . .May 15, 2015


Cold as Ice. (Whatever After; 6).

Sarah Mlynowski.
New York, NY: Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2015.
163 pp., hardcover, $16.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-62734-4.

Subject Headings:
Snow Queen (Fictitious character)-Juvenile literature.
Fairy tales-Adaptations-Juvenile fiction.
Magic mirrors-Juvenile fiction.
Reindeer-Juvenile fiction.
Brothers and sisters-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.

Review by Crystal Sutherland.

**** /4


“Aaaabbbby…” a voice says that night.

I sit up in bed.

Did I just hear my own name?

It’s eleven forty-five and I haven’t been able to fall asleep. I am too upset about the Robin situation. Also, my room is very cold. There may be no snow in Smithville, but our house- which is really old- is freezing. My parents keep trying to fix the heater but can’t seem to get it right. Tonight I put on two pairs of socks, green flannel pajamas, a fleece sweatshirt, and a blue-and-white striped knit hat to go to bed. Yes. A hat.

Next I hear, “Jonah…”

The voice is faint and sounds a little like wind chimes. Is that Maryrose? Maryrose is the fairly that lives inside our magic mirror. At least, I think she lives inside it. Maybe she’s trapped. Or maybe she’s hiding. To be honest, we’re not exactly sure what her housing situation is.

Anyway, is Maryrose really talking to me all the way from the basement? Did anyone else hear her?

“Step through!” I hear her say.

Step through the mirror? Does Maryrose want us to go into another fairy tale?


Abby has big plans for FRA (what Abby and her friends Frankie and Robin call themselves). They’re BFFs, and nothing will ever change their status, including their Wednesday nights hanging out; at least that’s what Abby thought until she saw Robin hanging out with Penny, a girl no one, including Abby, likes. When Abby tells Robin she can’t be friends with Penny and that Robin definitely can’t go to Penny’s house instead of Abby’s, things don’t go the way Abby expects. When Abby informs Robin that she can’t have another best friend, Robin makes it clear she can be friends with anyone she wants, and that she’ll be hanging out with her new, and much less bossy, best friend Penny. She’s not happy with ‘FA’ (FRA without Robin), but adding Penny to their team is simply unacceptable.

     Despite missing Robin on their hang-out night, Abby’s not about to change her mind about letting someone else into their group. FRA was perfect as it was. There has to be a good reason no one likes Penny, and nothing short of a miracle, or a magic mirror, is going to change her mind.

     It’s almost midnight when Abby hears Maryrose calling her name, then her brother’s name. She decides, even though she promised her parents she wouldn’t, to go into the basement.

     Abby’s dog Prince wants to investigate as well. Before Abby can convince herself Prince will never be able to knock three times on the mirror, required before stepping through, Prince has tapped his paw and is gone. Before she can figure out what to do, Jonah, her little brother, is in the basement and knocking on the mirror. They had promised their parents they wouldn’t do this again, but Prince needs to be saved, and Abby can’t let her little brother go alone.

     This isn’t the first time Abby and Jonah have travelled through the mirror and into a fairy tale, but they never find themselves in the same fairy tale twice. When they find Prince frozen in place, they quickly realize what fairy tale they’re in – The Snow Queen. A few icy kisses from the Snow Queen can slow you down or freeze you in place, or put you in a trance-like state like the boy the Snow Queen calls Kai who obeys every order given by the Snow Queen. Abby and Jonah know they have to save Prince, but they need to escape the Snow Queen’s kisses before they’re turned into obedient servants as well.

     Abby and Jonah escape the cold kisses of the Snow Queen but find themselves in an icy river. Luckily, a small army of trees pull them from the freezing water and offer up some dry, warm clothes. Unfortunately, it quickly become clear the trees are not benevolent – they’ve been picked up by a tiny troop of thieves who now consider the two indebted to them, just like the youngest of the trees, Sharon. Abby and Jonah know they should be grateful, but it’s tough when they find themselves locked in a small room with Gerda, a character from the original fairy tale, and a talking reindeer.

     Gerda is desperate to save her friend Kai from the Snow Queen, and she, Abby, and Jonah figure out a way to escape when ‘tree girl’ won’t let them out; she finally has the friends she always wanted and has no intention to let them go. The reindeer isn’t so keen on them leaving either; he wants to be freed as well, but he can’t fit through the small window, the only option, that Abby, Jonah and Gerda will squeeze through easily. He just has to trust that they will come back like they promised.

     When they confront the Snow Queen, she tells them why she freezes people: everyone is scared of her, and freezing people is the only way she can keep people around. While the others tell her she’s being selfish and cruel, Sharon, who has no family or friends now that she’s left the thieves, makes an observance: while the Snow Queen has only been able to find hurtful ways to use her freezing power, Sharon asks why she doesn’t help people with her power. The Snow Queen could be freezing injuries so they don’t hurt, or she could freeze animals who are about to attack others. The Snow Queen and Sharon are excited they’re now friends, Gerda and Kai are together again, and Ralph the reindeer is flying home to his family. Abby, Jonah and Prince are ready to go home through the magic mirror, hoping their parents haven’t noticed they’re not in their beds! Abby is also anxious to talk to Robin and apologize for trying to tell her whom she can be friends with and for judging Penny without getting to know her.

     Much like Abby, I judged this book by its cover and wondered if Cold as Ice was going to be too much like the movie Frozen which was, as Abby points out early in the book, based on The Snow Queen. I was pleasantly surprised as Abby, who seems very shallow at the beginning of the book, comes to life and shows how strong she can be and grows as she realizes a true friend doesn’t tell you whom you can be friends with, just as they can’t tell someone they will be their friend whether they want to or not.

     Mlynowski does a fantastic job taking a classic fairy tale and adding a modern twist. The story moves quickly, and readers will enjoy the quirky details throughout: thieves in tree costumes handing out penguin and polar bear costumes for warmth; Rorse Code (not to be confused with Morse Code, Rorse Code was created by Ralph the talking and flying reindeer). As characters share more about themselves and readers understand more about why they act and think the way they do, readers will be cheering for everyone, even the Snow Queen and the seemingly nasty tree-clad thieves.

Highly Recommended.

Crystal Sutherland is a MEd (Literacy) and MLIS graduate living in Halifax, NS.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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