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Half Upon a Time Paperback – September 13, 2011
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A NCTE Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts 2011
--Children's Literature Assembly, National Council of Teachers of English
James Riley's novel is more a re-imagined and greatly embroidered fairy tale than it is a fractured one. Highly recommended.
--Children's Literature, Heidi Hauser Green
About the Author
James Riley lives in Virginia. He is the author of Half Upon a Time, Twice Upon a Time, and Once Upon the End as well as the Story Thieves series.
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In the beginning of this story, we find Jack playing the hero in a training exercise. He is supposed to rescue the princess, but Jack does things his own way and it doesn't go so well. Luckily it was only training. On the way home, Jack's grandfather is explaining to him how important it is for him to learn to be a hero and rescue & marry a princess. Jack says something like there aren't any unmarried princesses around here and it's not like one is going to fall out of the sky... When that's exactly what happens. A girl (May), who appears to be a princess (according to her shirt anyway), falls out of the sky right in their path. She seems to be from our "normal" world and she has somehow fallen through a portal of sorts to Jack's world of magic, giants, fairies, etc. In other words, the world of Fairy Tales. A Huntsman is chasing May and her grandmother is missing. And it seems as if, somehow, May is related to Snow White (who has been missing for some time). Jack ends up on an adventure after all, trying to help May and rescue her grandmother.
Okay, first I must admit that I have a thing for these kinds of stories. I've seen quite a few written for younger readers in our school library. For instance, Goldie Socks & the Three Libearians, The Three Little Pigs & the Somewhat Bad Wolf and Three Silly Billies. Not to mention some of my recent favorites for young adults such as the Cinder series and Rump. I love the new twist put on an old story.
The story of Jack, May and Prince Phillip pulled me in right away. The characters are flawed and likable. And the situations range from funny to edge of the seat adventurous. This story brings in characters from many different stories, including Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, Snow White, the Evil Queen, the Huntsman and many more.
The book is cleverly written and fast paced. I am quite excited to read the next two, Twice Upon a Time and Once Upon the End. The end of this book left many questions that must be answered...
This would be a great book for kids in grades 4-8 (depending on reading level). I also think it's a great book to read aloud and share with your kids. Any kids who enjoy adventure stories or princess or hero stories should enjoy this book. Quite a few of the 4th & 5th graders at our school are reading this.
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
What I really liked was that the story didn't come to a close. Some trilogies feel like the author said all she/he wanted in the first book and just tacked on extra bad guys for the sequels. Not here. We have a definite overarching plot.
Jack was great. He made mistakes but not so many you think him incompetent. He's a bit sarcastic, but not overly so (not like May, who was annoying until she met the imp).
A couple times the narration zoomed out to omniscient pov, which was disconcerting but short enough to not detract too badly.
I did have a couple questions that went unanswered. They were moments of, "Why don't they try this?" Still, the characters cleverly surprised me (flower bridle, should've seen that coming).
Ahem. If Jack is knocked unconscious for hours, he won't run up dozens of flights of stairs and tackle dragons right afterward. He especially won't ignore it when May whacks him on the head for saying something stupid.
"Half Upon a Time" is a brilliant, exciting and fun read. Buy it now!
Well, maybe I should not be *that* brief. Here's more...
My daughter read the first book of the series, "Half Upon a Time," in October. The story of a boy training to be a knight who suddenly has a girl (wearing a "Punk Princess" shirt no less) fall out of the sky (literally, like really literally, not fake literally as people literally say) grabbed my daughter's attention from the get-go. So, she urged me to read it, too.
What a refreshing, fun and outright hilarious book for both children and adults!
The girl, May, wasn't a dreamy-eyed wimpy girl. Even after needing to be rescued, May determined her own course and plan to rescue someone else and find out more about her family. She is sassy, sensitive, smart, feisty, and brave... Fellow adventurers Jack and Philip are opposite ends of the personality spectrum, but they join her adventure and help her with their friendship and courage.
With its captivating blend of humor, action, adventure, and homages to fairy tales, the book caught my daughter's heart... (and mine, too).
I LOVE JAMES RILEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,,,
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