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Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin and Kate Messner

When I was a little girl, I’d get so immersed in the book I was reading that I’d tune everything else out. I wouldn’t hear people talking to me, I’d miss any commotion happening around me and I’d often blink and look around in confusion when I finally emerged from the page into the read world. 

I loved getting lost in the world of books. I still do. 

I think that’s why I adore Grace Lin and Kate Messner’s new picture book: Once Upon a Book.

This beautifully illustrated book literally immerses you in a story of childlike wonder and reading refuge. In it, we meet Alice. Alice is a young girl who is fed up with the cold, dreary days of winter and escapes into the pages of her book to faraway lands that look and feel very different from her own. 

Page by page, she travels to a tropical jungle with the birds, the blazing hot desert with the camels, a refreshing coral reef with the fish, the wide-open freedom of the sky with the clouds and the quiet calm of the moonlight. While all of these places each had something wonderful to offer, what Alice ultimately wished for was a place full of coziness and warmth… her own home. 

While readers will become entranced in Alice’s story, they’ll literally experience it for themselves as a result of the artfully designed illustrations. Each two-page spread ensconces the entire page and alternates between living in a scene directly from Alice’s book to exploring the next page to come, propelling the reader through the story. 

But the best part of the book, in my opinion, is the clever way Alice literally disappears into the pages. The story began with Alice wearing an adorable dress made out of fabric that resembled the pages of a book. As she jumps into the story, her dress literally blends in with the scenery as she gets lost inside the pages, just how I imagined myself doing the same as a child.

This book begs to be read and experienced. After reading, lead students in a conversation about their own bookish escapes:

  • What types of books make them feel lost inside the pages?
  • What topics and themes might they love to explore, just as Alice did? 
  • What kinds of reading practices help them better engage and interact with the books they read?

Reading Once Upon a Book will remind you of the power of reading and the utter joy readers feel when they lose themselves in the pages. This is a book to be read, to be savored and to spark a joyful reading habit.

1 thought on “Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin and Kate Messner”

  1. Love this synopsis of the book- will be one that I am purchasing now for sure. I can’t wait to read the book myself and share it.

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