Once Upon a Book

Little, Brown. Feb. 2023. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316541077.
PreS-Gr 2–In this vibrant celebration of reading, young Alice is tired of being cooped up at home on a dreary winter day and finds herself swept into the pages of a storybook for a grand adventure. The book takes her from a lush tropical rainforest to a deep sea dive to an expansive moonlit sky. Though each setting is wondrously tantalizing, none is exactly right, and Alice ends up back home with her parents just in time for a cozy dinner. Lin and Messner’s inspired collaboration pays homage to classic children’s literature with visual references to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and narrative themes evoking Where the Wild Things Are while simultaneously delivering an experience that is fresh and new. Richly detailed illustrations play with perspective and offer clever recurring motifs to delight readers each time they revisit the story. Alice’s journey into and out of a book captures the very essence of what it means to be a reader, reveling in the thrill of exploration, the power of imagination, and the comforting familiarity of home. This title shines as a positive representation of Asian American culture: Alice and her parents are depicted as Asian American, and their home decor incorporates Asian folklore and traditions such as the moon rabbit and a Lunar New Year decoration on the front door.
VERDICT A first purchase for picture book collections, this title will be a hit at story hours and for and classroom read-alouds, as well as a treasure for book lovers of all ages.

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