Book Review: Once Upon Another Time

Written by Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine; Illustrated by Andres F. Landazabal

By Amanda Elshahawi, Creator, Enchanted Literacy October 5, 2021

Recommended Ages 4 - 8 years

With autumn weather, my love for nature only grows. The sun-filled days combined with the crisp fresh air refresh my soul. No one can deny that the colors of Central Park boast a magnificent hue. Going on long walks, scavenger hunts and taking time to observe the land around us is a favorite day activity. We get so immersed in the growing beauty, we let the city noise dwindle away. If your mind is now drifting and longing to explore the outdoors then I have a book for you. 

Once Upon Another Time

This lyrical picture book brings to contrast the earth's past and present. The authors take you on a peaceful trip through time before cities, traffic, machines, even before the first harvesters to a world untouched by mankind. Giving the readers a soft nudge to action, “If you want to know this world, there’s something you can do...” we return to present-day with hope of how to appreciate nature and let that seed grow to protect and take care of our world. 

When given a choice, I prefer hard copies of books. You can’t compare flipping through pages to an audiobook or e-book. However, the only copies of Once Upon Another Time available at the library were digital. I was happily surprised to see it decently translated to e-book form. Landazabal’s illustrations are meant to be spread across each page, so having a digital view with no crease in the book pairs well with the painting's aesthetic. Words and illustrations are perfectly blended, each grabbing your hand to walk you through this lyrical tale through nature. Every spread feels like a masterpiece I would want to hang on my wall.  

This book can inspire further research into the earth’s history, practical ways to heal the earth, and a new appreciation for the natural world, making it a great addition to any school curriculum. You can turn this book into an activity checklist or take it on a scavenger hunt outdoors. My daughter and I were both inspired to paint scenes from the story. The creative process at any age can be stimulated through these pages. 

Amanda is a preschool teacher, mother and avid Central Park picnicker. She values community and is an advocate for families in the foster care system. One day she hopes to publish a children's book of her own. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram, Enchanted Literacy, which encourages imagination and passion for reading.

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