Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ONCE UPON A TIME by Alan Garner


by Alan Garner & illustrated by Norman Messenger

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-56458-381-3
Publisher: DK Publishing

One of Britain's finest novelists for young people (The Owl Service, 1967), who's long been interested in folklore (A Bag of Moonshine, 1986), creates three nursery tales distinguished by a folkloric lilt and his own fresh imagery. In the cumulative "The Fox, the Hare, and the Cock," Fox moves into Hare's hut of bark when his own ice hut melts, and is finally driven out by clever Cock after larger, stronger animals have failed. "The Girl and the Geese" concerns a child who saves her little brother from geese who've carried him off, but only after she tastes a "sharp apple," "sour milk," and "sad pies" offered by prospective helpers (a tree, a brook). And the dreamlike adventure of "Battibeth" begins with an errand to her grandmother to trade an egg for a knife; along the way, she loses the egg but finds a needle, which is transformed into a steeple that she climbs for an empowering view (and there's still more in this imaginative, powerfully symbolic sequence). Compact and intriguingly mysterious; handsomely illustrated with precisely detailed images, deployed effectively against dramatic white. (Picture book. 4-8)