Once Upon a Twice

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Once Upon a Twice Book Poster Image
Clever, spooky nonsense adventure isn't for sensitive kids.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive messages

The message here may be a bit confusing to young readers. Is it that the world, especially at night, can be a dangerous and scary place? Is it that we should listen to, and heed, the warnings of our elders? Should we abandon adventure and a search for beauty in favor of security? Or, should we take our chances, follow our dreams, and pass on our wisdom, if we are lucky enough live through our brushes with danger?

Violence & scariness

No graphic violence; however, the prey/predator kind of violence inherent in nature is implied. The owl hovers overhead, and the snake lurks in the pond waiting to devour the mouse. At one point, there is some question about whether or not he has succeeded.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that they should read this book through a couple of times before reading it aloud because the clever nonsense words can be stumbling blocks. Also, this may not be the story to read to sensitive kids who are already afraid of the night or upset about the notion of predators hunting prey. Kids who love wordplay, however, will love it.

User Reviews

Parent of a 14 year old Written byjjazzlover August 31, 2009

Dramatic Imagery and Creative Word-Play in ant Award-Deserving Book

A special sense of fun and wonder pervades this outstanding new book. Denise Doyen's inventive story and language provides the fun (and some beguiling misc... Continue reading
Parent of a 4, 11, and 14 year old Written byLeMoon August 27, 2009

Great action adventure poem! Fun and worth the challenge.

The rhyme and rhythms in this book are outstanding -- truly reminiscent of the Jabberwocky. The story is essentially the Peter Rabbit story: "Listen to you... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bynazz4ever September 15, 2009
sounds good 2 me...

What's the story?

Written in rhyme interwoven with nonsense words, this is the story of a young adventuresome mouse who learns the hard way just why he should listen to his elders.

Is it any good?

The tone is definitely spooky, the language playfully imaginative, and the illustrations rich, and beautifully magical. Quite a combination! With mice prowling through the rice field, predators lurking in the dark, and words of warning "whispercrooned," tension builds and is carried near to the end. Though this is not really a Halloween story, it definitely exudes that kind of scary suspense.

The joy of the story is in the wordplay. Rhyming lines are splattered with made-up words that are fun to say and, for the most part, clever in their meaning. The technique is slightly reminiscent of Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll or The BFG by Roald Dahl, and almost as enjoyable. Set in stanzas against artwork that is amazing in its expressive, uncluttered sensitivity, the story seems like an ancient one, and one readers will want to read time and time again.

Deep midnight blues, dark grey-greens, blacks of the wooded landscape, flecks of luminous fireflies, and a bright off-white moon provide a rich tapestry for this story. Predators are painted as dark creatures, silhouetted against the moon or nearly hidden in the reeds along the riverbank while light brown mice show up very well, almost as if a spotlight were following them, and making the point that they definitely can be seen...not a good thing. And, except for Jam, the mice have eyes that express their timidity and caution; his shine with adventure. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about nonsense words. What do you think "scoutaprowl" means? Or "inbetwiddle"? Or "goofiddles"? How do you know? 

  • Why did the elder mice want Jam to stay with the group and not venture out into the night alone?

  • What is the "dangershine" of the moon, and why did it make the night even more dangerous to the mice?

  • What lesson did Jam learn in the end? Why is he called the "Keeper-of-the-song"?

  • Do you think his adventure was worth the risk?

Book details

For kids who love creepy stories

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