About the Holiday
The month of March is dedicated to reading! Starting off with Read across America Day on March 2nd, the month celebrates all the joys and benefits of reading. When you read with your child or children every day you’re helping them develop the language and literacy skills that will promote future success in school and beyond. Even if your child isn’t talking yet, they’re listening and learning about their language as you read to them. Older kids also love being read to, and setting aside time to read together builds strong bonds that can last a lifetime. The month is typically marked with special events in schools, libraries, bookstores, and communities that bring authors, illustrators, and educators together with kids. This year, you can find virtual story times, resources, and activity ideas on the National Education Association website.
Thank you to Beaming Books for sharing a digital copy of Once Upon Another Time for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own. I’m excited to be teaming with Beaming Books in a giveaway of the book. See details below.
Once Upon Another Time
Written by Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine | Illustrated by Andrés F. Landazábal
In their contemplative story, Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine entreat readers to look at the world in a way that’s new yet also as old as time itself. Beginning with the wistfulness of a fairytale, the hypnotic verses take children back to a “land of long ago”… where “wonder waited in the hush / of every new sunrise.” Back to when mountains rose into clean skies and rivers ran though lush valleys. Back to when “there were no cities made of steel, / no buildings, no concrete, / no highways, byways, / billboard signs, / no traffic in the street.”
For kids it may seem impossible that there was ever a time that gazing upward offered no chance of seeing a plane or drone and that all “the webs were spider-spun.” It’s hard to imagine a world with no machines, no mining for gold or oil, no farming, and even no human footprints in the soil. But “before one human step was taken… Earth and moon and stars awakened.”
This world’s still waiting to be found by stepping out, taking along no distractions. Then once outside, really look at the smallest things, “feel the wind,” and “taste the rain.” Listen closely, breathe in smells, and climb a tree. In the dark, “watch the moon. / Listen to the cricket’s tune.” And soon the dawning “sun will climb… / just as it did another time.”
The collaboration between Charles Ghigna and Matt Forrest Esenwine has created a rhyming story that doesn’t just celebrate nature but invites children to rediscover its awesome power to inspire, nurture, and excite. Ghigna and Esenwine’s story structure takes children backward in steps, reflected in page turns, from noisy cities and cluttered skies to the introduction of dams and factories to simple mining practices to the first humans and finally to the birth of our solar system. The impression these pages forge exposes that well-known duality of time: it moves so quickly; it moves so slowly. And so it is with childhood—that time when one can embrace nature—and life—with innocence and wonder. Esenwine and Ghigna ask kids to leave behind the phones, computers, and games to experience sights, sounds, smells, and feelings for real as well as to imagine the past and all the ways we are connected to it.
Andrés F. Landazábal’s lovely illustrations portray the grandeur of nature as well as its simple surprises that are no less breathtaking. A pink, turquoise and golden sunset over desert plateaus contrasts with a twilit wildflower field where a tiny sparrow watches a flock of birds fly away under the eye of a pale crescent moon. Landazábal’s images of nature are soft and mottled while his depictions of modern society show stark lines and the impenetrable nature of concrete, glass, and metal. As the story invites kids to discover the world unhindered, one page spread that will be a particular favorite of readers shows two children walking into their backyard underneath which a fossilized dinosaur sprawls. In his final pages, Landazábal assures readers that no matter where they live—country, suburbs, or city—there are places where they can experience the wonders of nature.
A unique, beautifully poetic invitation for children to explore nature and their place in it, Once Upon Another Time is a story readers will love to hear again and again. The book can also provide a spark for environmental, science, writing, and history lessons. Once Upon Another Time is highly recommended for home, school, and public libraries.
Ages 4 – 8
Beaming Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1506460543
Discover more about Charles Ghigna, his books, and his poetry on his website.
To learn more about Matt Forrest Esenwine, his books, and his poetry, visit his website.
You can learn more about Andrés F. Landazábal and view a portfolio of his work on his website.
National Book Day Activity
Book-Loving Shark Maze
If you’re like this shark, you love devouring books – the more the better! Can you help this shark find its way to the stack of books in this printable puzzle?
Book-Loving Shark Maze | Book-Loving Shark Maze Solution
You can find Once Upon Another Time at these booksellers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million
To support your local independent bookstore, order from
Picture Book Review