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Ferris, Jean.
ONCE UPON A MARIGOLD
San Diego : Harcourt, Inc. 2002.
IL 5-8, RL 6.9
ISBN  0152167919

(6 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

"Part comedy, part love story, part everything but the kitchen sink".  So goes the sub-title.  Add to that "total delight"!  Our tale begins when young Christian is 6 years old and has run away from home.  He is discovered hiding in the woods by Edric, a kindly troll with a penchant for mixing up his metaphors as in "beating one's head against a dead horse."  Edric adopts Christian and raises him as his own in his marvelous, magical crystal cave.  Christian is a problem-solver whose hobby is inventing useful things of all sorts.  When he grows to young manhood, he spends much time gazing through his telescope at the castle across the river where a young princess resides.  Smitten at the sight of her, he gets up his courage to initiate a correspondence via p-mail (p is for pigeon).  Princess Marigold replies and the adventure begins with Christian's crossing the river at last to land a job as a servant at the palace.  Even though Marigold returns his affections, there are many hurdles to overcome.  Don't miss this funny, fantastical romp that will leave you feeling lighter than air.  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee)

Booktalk #2

Edric the Troll is quite content with his life in the forest.  He makes a pretty good living picking up the things that other drop while passing through the woods.  But one day, what is left behind is a young boy.  Edric is determined to return the boy to his family but the boy tells tales of mistreatment and says he doesn't want to go back.   Knowing that the boy should go back, Edric nonetheless allows him to stay.  As the years go by, they become quite attached to each other.  The boy, Christian, comes to think of Ed as a father.  Christian is a curious lad who loves to invent things.  Some times his inventions work and some times they don't.  One thing that Christian loves to do is look through his telescope and watch life at the castle.  Especially Princess Marigold.  He's watched her for years and even been able to strike up a long distance friendship with her.  Will he ever be able to meet her?  And if he does, would she even talk to a commoner?

Booktalk #3

In Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris, the reader learns about the lives, abilities, politics, and traditions of trolls, the hazards of a world governed by too many rules, and that an ambitious mother can be as dangerous as a wicked step-mother. All the anticipated elements of the fantasy fairy tale are here, but a humorous twist makes this a more thought-provoking and entertaining read than most ďhappily ever after ď romances.

Marge Erickson Freeburn  (Colorado Blue Spruce Children's Award)

Booktalk #4

My dad is a troll. Well, heís not my real dad, but he found me hiding in the forest when I was just a little guy. Iíd run away from home. I knew my name was Christian, but all I knew about my parents was that their names were Father and Mother, and Ed couldnít figure out how to return me to my real home without getting himself into a lot of trouble. So he took me in, got to liking me, and raised me in his cave in the forest, along with the dogs, Bub and Cate. Edís big passion in life is trying to convince the members of the LEFT Association (LEFT stands for Leprechauns, Elves, Fairies, and Trolls) that Queen Mabís tooth fairy monopoly should be broken up. Queen Mab is just unbelievably bad at reading maps, is forgetful and overworked.

We live in King Swithbertís kingdom. Heís a decent sort. Mostly concerned with keeping folks in his kingdom happy. The one person in his kingdom whoís the most difficult to please is his wife, Queen Olympia. Sheís a control freak, wanting to increase her power by marrying her 4 princesses to the right princes, in order to expand her sphere of influence. The three blond triplets were easily married to the right guys. This only left Queen Olympia with the troubling problem of Princess Marigold. For one thing, a fairy had given as a birth-gift to Marigold the gift of sensitivity to the thoughts and feelings of others. The birth fairy overdid it, however, so that Marigold can actually know the thoughts of others just by touching them. So the gift turned out to be a curse because very few people wanted to touch Marigold. Certainly her mother never touched her. And this meant very few eligible suitors could be found for Marigold.

How do I know all this? Well, Iíve been watching! Iím an inventor of sorts. Iíve invented an elevator which delivers water to the cave from the river, and boomerang arrows (kind of handy when you miss your target), rutabaga parfaits (that one didnít go over so well), a telescope, and p-mail. Whatís p-mail, you ask? Well, pigeon-mail, of course. Iíve spent a lot of my time using my telescope to watch the castle which is across the river from our cave. I know all about King Swithbert, Queen Olympia, and the three triplets. But most of all, I watch Marigold. I feel like I know Marigold. I see that no one but King Swithbert ever touches her. I feel that sheís lonely and unhappy. And I want to get her know better.

So I devised a little canister that fits on Walter the pigeonís leg, and I trained Walter to fly to a destination, wait for a reply and fly home again. Now Marigold and I have been communicating via p-mail. We both love Greek myths, we trade bad jokes, and I hear all about her attempts to foil Queen Olympiaís attempts to marry her to one horrible suitor after another. But this canít go on forever. Soon Queen Olympia will succeed. Sheís determined to have Marigold out of her way. Iím not sure thereís anything I can do, but itís time for me to try.

With lots of mixed feelings and none of us knowing what to say or do, I leave Ed and the dogs, cross the river and take a job as a squire, working in the stables at the castle. Now Iím close to Marigold, King Swithbert, and Queen Olympia. And things are worse than I thought. Queen Olympia really is willing to do anything, even bump off her own family, to have her way.

Susan Bartel  (Colorado Blue Spruce Children's Award)

Booktalk #5

Ed the troll is happily living a quiet life in the forest until he finds a bossy six year old who forces him to take him to live in the forest Ė in Edís cave no less! Ed thought this would only last a day or two, but ten years later Ed canít imagine life without his adopted son. After all, Christian, with his wild inventions and easygoing ways has really turned the old cave into a home. Edís worked hard to teach Christian everything he needs to know, but he forgot to warn him about girls! So when Christian sees a lonely princess through his telescope Ė he canít help but fall in love. Christian sends her a message via carrier pigeon, and soon Christian and Marigold are great friends, communicating almost daily through ďp-mail.Ē Then Christian decides he needs to meet Marigold in person, so against Edís wishes, he leaves the forest and finds a job working at Marigoldís castle. But how is Christian, a lowly servant, supposed to talk to a princess?! He also doesnít figure on Marigoldís horrible fiancée, a queen plotting double murder, and a kindly king whoís close to death. Why is love so complicated!
 Prepared by: Amanda LeBlanc for South Carolina Junior Book Award 2005

Booktalk #6

"Once Upon A Marigold" was a hot book that was kind of like a Sleeping Beauty story without Sleeping Beauty. The book starts out with a troll named Edric, going through the woods, looking for stuff people had dropped or lost, when his two dogs, Beelzebub and Hecate, notice something in the bushes. So they lead Edric over to them and out pops a little boy, about six years old. He tells Ed that his name is Christian and that he doesn't want to go back home because there are too many rules there. Of course Ed doesn't want the little boy, but allows Chris to come home with him. When they arrive, Chris tells Ed if he tries to find his parents, he will tell them that Ed was going to hold him for ransom and after he got the money, he was going to kill him. Ed ain't want him to do that so he said he could stay. After that the book goes on to Part Two. All I am going to say about this part is that it's interesting and fast-paced. If you want to know what happens, I suggest you check out the book. (Nadia Smith, nadiahcms2009@yahoo.com,  Hertford County Middle School Library)

SUBJECTS:     Fairy tales.
                        Princesses -- Fiction.
                        Kings, queens, rulers, etc. -- Fiction.
                        Family life -- Fiction.
                        Trolls -- Fiction.
                        Humorous stories.

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