Once Upon a Twice

{Just a couple days left in my BOOK TRAILER GIVEAWAY! Check out my guest post at Julie Hedlund’s blog for the details. Comments are over on the Book Trailer page.}

by Denise Doyen and illustrated by Barry Moser.

Once Upon a Twice has often been compared to the nonsensical verse of Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky. Quite a comparison, and wholly deserved. Denise Doyen’s words are crafted so deftly, with a mix of sound and true words and ones that are delightful to read, such as ‘whispercroons’, ‘riskarascal’, and ‘scritchscrambles.’ Despite the creative and imaginative language, the story rolls off the tongue without the slightest hitch. It’s fun to read aloud, and it’s fun to hear.

Once upon a twice,
In the middle of the nice,
The moon was on the rice
And the Mice were scoutaprowl…

The swamp at night is a dark and dangerous place, but Jam Boy refuses to heed his elders’ warnings. Although he is stubborn and careless, he is strong, smart, and brave. Any young reader, or heck, any reader will identify with Jam Boy’s braggart ways and will cheer for his story’s ending.

Color drives this story in a very beautiful and subtle way. The darkness of the swamp is lit ominously with the golden moon. But even in the darkness, the tones are warm and rich rather than dark and cold. Each turn of the page plunges you more into the story, more into Jam Boy’s world, and more into the eery swamp. The monochromatic night envelops you as you read, and the colors of that world create a lovely unity and mood to the book as a whole.

I might say this is one of my all time favorites. That’s a really tough thing to say, but the marriage of art and words here is utterly gorgeous. Refined, and yet at the same time, kind of hilarious. Nonsense words matched with illustrations that have somewhat of a serious quality? This book nods at everything I love about picture books.

I dare you not to smile during this rousing read aloud by an adorable kindergartener:

And just in case you are extra smitten with Jam Boy, you can buy Barry Moser’s original watercolors here! My budget is forcing me to stick to the book, but if you looking to support an artist and have a small piece of storytelling genius on your wall, there’s your spot.

{PS: If you need more Once Upon a Twice, this interview with Denise Doyen is DELIGHTFUL.  And it’s on one of my most favorite spots to linger on the intertubez, so pull up a chair and stay a while. You’ll be glad you did. AND you’ll get to see full res spreads from this book rather than iPhone pics from the trunk of my car. Seriously.}


  • Posted February 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    OMG! Darling read aloud by that girl! What a tongue twister! I don’t think I could pull it off like she did. What a fun book & super-darling girl!

  • Posted February 19, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Right? So adorable. It’s HARD to say all those words! And a lot to remember!

  • Posted February 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Oh my! I want this book so badly. It has EVERYTHING you could want in a PB. *salivates*

  • Posted February 19, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    I was a kindergarten teacher for many years…and had many bright children…this little girl is BRILLIANT…as is the book.:)
    Thank you for sharing it with us…I know every child who hears it will be captivated!