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Once on a Time

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  557 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
"This is an odd book" or so states the author in 1917 for his first introduction. A fairytale with seven league boots, a princess, an enchantment, and the Countess Belvane. As Milne wrote in a later introduction: "But, as you see, I am still finding it difficult to explain just what sort of book it is. Perhaps no explanation is necessary. Read in it what you like; read it ...more
Published 1988 by Signet (first published 1917)
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettPeter Pan by J.M. BarrieA Little Princess by Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Children's Lit Before 1923
122nd out of 217 books — 65 voters
Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. MontgomeryThe Lost Princess of Oz by L. Frank BaumUnderstood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield FisherParnassus on Wheels by Christopher MorleyOnce on a Time by A.A. Milne
Best Books of 1917
5th out of 19 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,280)
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Sep 22, 2009 Yvensong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yvensong by: Cherylllr
Shelves: fantasy, bookcrossing
This fairy tale written for adults is so much more. It is, on the surface, a satire of other fairy tales with the prerequisite King, Princess, Prince, "evil" Countess, and magic. Unlike fairy tales written for children, we dig a little deeper into the workings of the mind of these characters, and learn that what's on the surface isn't always the motivating factor.

Milne wrote this after being in WWI, so he also used this tale to look at how easy it is to start a war, (for some rather silly reason
Apr 21, 2011 Rowan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ages 9-12
Shelves: ya, fantasy, humour, fiction
To anyone who thinks Milne only wrote books for very young children: boy, are you missing out! A. A. Milne is the author of an extensive canon of clever, whimsical and humorous writing, and this charming fairytale, according to the author himself, is one of his favourites. Written in 1915, this story includes a power-hungry Countess, a couple of foolish kings, an arrogant prince and his much-preferable wing-man, and a princess who is not at all sure she needs to be rescued. I can't help it; anym ...more
Rachel Heffington
Feb 12, 2014 Rachel Heffington rated it it was amazing
I love nonsense. I love fairytales. I love A.A. Milne. Is there anything more to be said? Oh yes. Read this, please.
Elliott Davis
Nov 20, 2012 Elliott Davis rated it it was amazing
This is probably one of my favorite comedies of all time! Its HILARIOUS. At some points I had to stop reading it 'cause I was laughing so hard that everyone was looking at me like i was insane. Would recommend this to anyone.
May 29, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wickedly funny satire deserves a wider audience. It's not really a children's book, although I first read it as a child because it was there on the library shelf in the children's section. It was a small library and I was running out of books. Hey, this one has a pink cover and looks like it might be fun to read...

It wasn't until I found the book again on the children's shelf of the library, but this time as an adult to read to my own children, that I realized what a gem it was and what was
Alisa Kester
Charmingly told, but wow. I have serious issues with the ending! (view spoiler) ...more
Tandava Brahmachari
Apr 13, 2013 Tandava Brahmachari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-alouds
Absolutely charming and delightfully silly. Pure fluff of a story, with no purpose but to amuse, and yet the humor never feels forced, or even like the main focus, even though it's incredibly funny the entire way through. A line can be so casually inserted into a scene that you almost don't know how funny it is until you realize you just had to stop reading for two minutes so you could laugh. Fantastic book for reading aloud, too.
Penelope Wallace
Oct 07, 2015 Penelope Wallace rated it it was amazing
I haven't done many reviews on Goodreads yet, but this is my first 5 star. Surely the first femme fatale in children's literature. Surely the earliest discussion of historical sources in children's literature - the author solemnly introduces his three sources, explains where they disagree, and how he decides between them. The story of the king turned into a sheep! ("Which is more powerful, a king or a fairy?" "A king... besides being more woolly.") The two kings who wear invisible cloaks to go s ...more
Melissa Anderson
Mar 23, 2009 Melissa Anderson rated it it was amazing
This book was genius. It is also what it claimed to be: a fairy-tale for adults. The characters are amusing and addictive, the story-line is ingenious, the conversations and observations were enough to reduce one to tears of laughter. I read it the first time when I was still in elementary school, but it is one book that has certainly grown better with time!
Apr 01, 2008 Clara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Clara by: marie
This was a delightful read. I loved how Milne is able to create very consistent characters. While I will probably always call Pooh my favorite of Milne's (and "The Red House Mystery" my favorite adult novel of his), this was truly very fun to read.
Sep 19, 2014 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Delightfully whimsical, read out loud while Jean was pregnant.
Jan 18, 2015 Kateri rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
What a clever and charming little book.

“But suppose you really were an animal altogether, it wouldn’t annoy you at all. An elephant isn’t annoyed at being an elephant; he just tries to be a good elephant, and he’d be miserable if he couldn’t do things with his trunk. The annoying thing is to look like an elephant, to have the very complicated--er--inside of an elephant, and yet all the time really to be a man.”

By no means is this a quote from the book I have shared for the reason that I believe
Jun 25, 2011 K. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fairy tale lovers
Delightful! Who knew A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh) wrote anything else (well, I didn't ;)

I think someone on Victorians! recommended this, but don't recall.

At any rate, nice little break from my heavier fare of late, although it took me an unprecedented time to read--summer is so busy.

Much of the humor and meaning behind the action will be lost on a child, but he or she will still enjoy it very much. It seems like a classic fairy tale, but Milne said he wrote it for "grown-ups." Not because th
Kasey Jane
Jun 02, 2012 Kasey Jane rated it it was amazing
This is a delightfully whimsical fairy tale along the lines of William Goldman's The Princess Bride. However, I thought this story more humorous and better told than the later, more famous, one.

Once on a Time joins a short list of books that I've giggled my way through. When I read a portion to my partner, he laughed so hard that tears stood in his eyes. A.A. Milne was better known as a playwright before he created Winnie-the-Pooh, and this early novella paints its scenes as well as any comedy o
Kris Grooms
Jul 29, 2013 Kris Grooms rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it the first time when I was around 12, and I am still re-reading it at 35. Milne's wit is dry, mildly sarcastic, and a wonderful commentary on life in general: "It is the Gladstone bag which has killed romance." Milne points out the absurdities that are rife in every traditional fairy tale--princes have some kind of toilet, but we never hear about it; magic swords must have some kind of distinguishing mark, but what kind? These little inciden ...more
Jul 09, 2009 Gloria rated it really liked it
I first read this book when I was 12, and absolutely adored it. My sisters and I found a copy one summer while living in Taiwan (a pirated one, it turns out, although at the time we didn't know, understand, or frankly, care; it was in English, and we could read it! was all that matter).

My sister mentioned it just recently, saying she wanted to find a copy to share with her youngest; she thought he would really enjoy it. Thus, I was prompted to 1) see if it was in print in the US (it isn't) and 2
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
I own this edition; it hypes the book as the comedic fantasy classic "before The Princess Bride." Does it live up to this? Yes and no. It is funny at times, but it feels even more dated than The Princess Bride. (Yes, I feel comfortable calling TPB dated. Mostly because I don't like Buttercup as a character very much.) The heroine is constantly presented as needing a dude to rescue her and solve her problems. But this is from 1922 so it gets a little slack.

If you get hold of the updated edition i
Jun 06, 2014 Matthew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very nice book. I enjoyed it quite a bit, a classic fairy tale in the old style. Not a violent story, though it does contain a war, and not a romance though many of the characters do fall in love a couple of times. It was more of a thoughtful story than anything else and was narrated cleverly.
Jan 24, 2014 Theresa rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
For the first half of this book I kept thinking of giving up. It is extremely silly, and that is really not me. But by the time Hyacinth brought Udo to her kingdom, it had gotten a lot better.

What I liked:

1.I loved the name Hyacinth. That alone made me want to like this book.

2. I liked Coronel. As soon as Hyacinth and Coronel met I knew I could read this book happily.

3.Poor little Wiggs. Giving up her wish. What brave girl.

What I didn't like:

1. The over the top silliness. It was like The Cat In
Nov 27, 2015 Cassandra rated it liked it
I don't actually remember reading this. However, it's on the list of books I read in October 2012. And it seems like a book I would have read, so I'm adding it.

How strange!
Jun 16, 2015 Tammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite, fantasy
I had no idea that A.A. Milne wrote anything other than the Winnie the Pooh books! This is such an endearing book. There are heroes and villains, but you never really know who is what or which or whom. The version I listened to was a dramatic reading and everyone embodied the characters so well, I was completely immersed. Very well done.
John Martindale
A fairy tale filled with wit and humor, I very much enjoyed it. I think Pixar should make a movie out of it.
A.k. Frailey
May 28, 2015 A.k. Frailey rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story and the kids got more out of it than I thought they would. It was fun and at times charming but not as enchanting as some of Milne's other work. Still a great read, more humorous than I first imagined.
May 25, 2015 F.j.commelin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
totally fun and over the top fantasy by Milne. Maybe even more fun for adults.
A cute, whimsical book by the author of Winnie the Pooh, "for grown ups" (its mantra, one that you'll be beaten over the head with if you read any section of the book other than the novel itself). This is a fairly quick read, with fluffy humor that makes it feel a bit like a Terry Pratchett book done in delicate pastel colors and rubbed paper-thin. You know, if stories were also paintings. It's a little bit dull sometimes, but fortunately is short enough that the dull bits pass quickly. This one ...more
Jennifer Burgett
Jan 24, 2015 Jennifer Burgett rated it it was amazing
Absolutely delightful. Read most of it in one sitting.
Steve Miller
Dec 28, 2013 Steve Miller rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Milne wrote in the introduction that you will either like the book or you won't. I liked it.

Not that I was sure that I would at first, but as the characters grew and developed, I found them entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the way the kings' stories played out. Milne's humor comes out in full force, and the book is worth reading for that alone.
Jul 13, 2011 Maeve rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
This book is absolutely amazing... seriously. It's so witty and clever. It portends to be a mix between a children's fantasy story and a historic epic, but really it's just a delightful tale full of clever in-jokes for adults. I highly recommend it. It is whimsical and pure joy. There is also an excellent free audiobook of it with full cast through LibriVox, the best I've heard of their work.
pure delight. recommended for cold/rainy winter days when internal sunshine and light-heartedness is in low supply. milne will delight.

second reading june 2012 -- cold rainy days in amstelveen. this delightful picker-me-upper in the late afternoon is just what the alternative doctor of medicine would recommend for a nudge into a more pleasant evening.

third reading february 2013 -- i so enjoy the gentle nature of milne's short stories.
A charming story. I enjoyed the witty nature of all of the characters; especially the narrator's endearing, conversational tone. No doubt you have read the synopsis at the top of the page, so I shall spare you the run-down.

It is from the same author as Winnie-the-Pooh. I listened to the dramatic reading off of LibriVox and even made a hard copy cd version so I could share it easier with children and other family members.

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Alan Alexander Milne (pronounced /ˈmɪln/) was an English author, best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh and for various children's poems.

A. A. Milne was born in Kilburn, London, to parents Vince Milne and Sarah Marie Milne (née Heginbotham) and grew up at Henley House School, 6/7 Mortimer Road (now Crescent), Kilburn, a small public school run by his father. One of his teac
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“His dress told her nothing, but his face told her things which she was glad to know.” 75 likes
“She also considered very seriously what she would look like in a little cottage in the middle of the forest, dressed in a melancholy gray and holding communion only with the birds and trees; a life of retirement away from the vain world; a life into which no man came. It had its attractions, but she decided that gray did not suit her.” 70 likes
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