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Book Review

Cold as Ice by Sarah Mlynowski has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the sixth book in the “Whatever After” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Ten-year-old Abby and her 7-year-old brother, Jonah, have recently moved to Smithville. Their new home has a magic mirror in the basement, and it’s inhabited by a fairy named Maryrose. When they knock on it three times, the mirror sucks them into fairy tales.

They’ve already been to the stories of “Snow White,” “Cinderella,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Rapunzel.” While they were on their last adventure, their parents woke up to discover they were missing. Maryrose has instructed them not to tell anyone about the mirror, so they lied to their parents about where they were. They promised they would never disappear at night again.

When Maryrose calls out to Abby, she plans to ignore the fairy and keep her promise to stay home. Then their puppy, Prince, gets sucked into the mirror. The kids decide they have to follow and rescue him. They find themselves in a wintery land and determine they’ve entered the fairy tale “The Snow Queen.”

Jonah only knows the movie story of Frozen, which is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. Abby gives him a brief synopsis of the real fairy tale, about a boy named Kai and a girl named Gerda who are best friends. Kai goes missing, and Gerda believes the evil Snow Queen has put him under her spell. Gerda finds and rescues him.

Jonah and Abby follow the dog’s footprints to the Snow Queen’s impressive ice castle. There, they see the zombie-like Kai building snowmen. The Snow Queen is annoyed by Prince’s barking and freezes him.

Jonah and Abby escape. They fall through the ice on a pond and get soaked. A woman with an eye patch and a girl about their age, named Sharon, offer them warm clothes and cocoa. The woman and Sharon are actually thieves who are kidnapping Abby and Jonah. The kids only realize this after the talking reindeer, Ralph, sarcastically tells the kids they’re clueless.

The thieves imprison Abby, Jonah and Ralph in the basement. There, the kids meet Gerda from the fairy tale. Gerda says Sharon has promised to let her go free, but hasn’t.

Ralph and the kids tell Sharon that they’ll take her with them if she helps them leave. Sharon says she doesn’t like being a thief, but that her real mother died when she was small. She’s afraid if she leaves, she won’t have anywhere to go.

Abby, Jonah and Gerda decide to break out by climbing on Ralph’s back and crawling through a window. Ralph obliges but is convinced they plan to leave him behind when they escape. Abby promises to come back for him. Once they get outside, she tells Jonah and Gerda to stay put and returns to the house to get Ralph.

Sharon catches her in the house but says she has decided to go with them. Abby, Sharon and Ralph can’t find the others and head for the Snow Queen’s castle. They discover Jonah and Gerda have been turned into zombies as Kai has. They’re all building snowmen together.

Ralph flies away to go see his family. Abby and Sharon dress in snowman costumes and attempt to break the others out of the spell by making them think happy thoughts. The Snow Queen appears and starts blowing angry ice kisses at Abby. Abby speaks kindly to her, and the Snow Queen decides Abby should stay with her and be her friend. She urges Abby to allow her mirror to give her freezing magic so they can be snow queens together. When Abby refuses, the Snow Queen freezes her.

Ralph surprises everyone by returning and saving the group. He convinces the Snow Queen she doesn’t have to be alone. At the same time, she can’t force people to be her friends. The Snow Queen gets the picture, and Sharon says she would love to stay and live in the ice palace. She even takes the queen up on her offer to receive freezing powers. The two become fast friends.

Abby, Jonah and the dog return home through the Snow Queen’s mirror. Their parents are awake, looking for them. Abby decides she won’t lie to them anymore, and she tells them all about the magic mirror. They don’t believe her, so she shows them. Maryrose hypnotizes the parents so they’ll forget all about waking up and seeing the mirror. Jonah accidentally gets hypnotized, too. He has forgotten all of their fairy tale adventures, but Abby holds out hope his memory will return.

Before the kids entered The Snow Queen, Abby had a falling out with her friend Robin. Robin wanted to have other friends and not always do what Abby wanted. This made Abby mad. When the Snow Queen froze Abby for not obeying, Abby realized she had treated Robin the same way. Back at home, Abby writes Robin a note of apology and asks for forgiveness.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

The kids are transported into fairy tales by a magic mirror. The Snow Queen and other characters Abby and Jonah have met in the past possess magical powers and cast spells. Abby mentions a present Jonah got for Hanukkah.

Authority Roles

Abby and Jonah’s parents are worried when they wake up and can’t find the kids. The woman who served as Sharon’s guardian made the girl steal for her.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Lying/Deception: Jonah tells the robbers his watch no longer works so they won’t steal it. The kids aren’t supposed to tell anyone about the magic mirror. Abby keeps the secret from their parents for a while. She gets tired of lying and finally tells them the truth.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 14


Sarah Mlynowski






Record Label



Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.


On Video

Year Published





We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.