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Once (Once #1)

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  12,208 Ratings  ·  1,398 Reviews
Felix, a Jewish boy in Poland in 1942, is hiding from the Nazis in a Catholic orphanage. The only problem is that he doesn't know anything about the war, and thinks he's only in the orphanage while his parents travel and try to salvage their bookselling business. And when he thinks his parents are in danger, Felix sets off to warn them--straight into the heart of Nazi-occu ...more
ebook, 176 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (first published 2005)
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Jonathan Tang The main character is Felix, though other characters would be just as important throughout the story...
Anna Wallman Any story involving children in the 2nd WW Germany would be sad. I cried rivers.
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When I was young 'un, we had this storytelling board game in our house. If memory serves me right, it was called, simply, "Once..."

The basis of the game was to create a story from a card prompt and people had to guess whether it was true or not - or something like that anyway.

As many things do, at first this game went over my head a bit. *swoosh* Because in my everyday life, whenever I would try to make up a story (or more accurately - what you might call a white lie) to my friends or family, th
Marjorie Ingall
I did not want to like Once. I hated that cover line: “Everybody deserves to have something good in their life. At least once.” Damn it, “anyone” does not agree with “their”! Even if I am the last person fighting this battle I will continue to fight it! GAH! But um, more importantly, Once sounded to me like a rehash of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a book I loathed. Children (and adults) do not need faux-naif, manipulative, emotionally inauthentic Holocaust books. I’d thought Once was about an ...more
Feb 23, 2016 Sally906 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful story - Felix is a young Jewish boy in WWII Poland sets off from an orphanage to find his missing parents. He thinks Nazi's are book burners and his parents have gone off somewhere to hide the books in their store. They have been gone over 3 years.

As he travels he sees horrendous events but in his innocence he is not realising what he is seeing. He saves a younger girl called Zelda and in turn they are saved.

Gradually as the story progresses Felix's innocence falls away and real
What can you say about a book with a small child living through the Holocaust. The story focuses on Felix, a small 10 year old Jewish boy, who is living in an orphanage. His parents put him in this place a little over three years ago for safety. So he isn't exactly an orphan. Felix is very naive and believes the Nazi's are burning books because they don't like books and sets off to find his parents and save all the books in his parents book store. I was a bit shocked initially how naive he is bu ...more
Jun 28, 2013 Siobhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book as a child still in primary school. It was a project and I was the only child in the class who fully understood what the child in the story was talking about. The burning books, the angry men in uniforms, the train, the carriages, the fear... What he was experiencing. No one else knew what it was that was so scary and terrifying about this story, except me. I guess that makes it worse in the long run.
I think that's why this story has stuck with me into my adulthood.
Dora Santos Marques
A minha opinião em vídeo:

Que livro amoroso, que coisa tão, tão boa! Porque é que só o descobri agora?
Quem gosta de história do Holocausto, gostará deste livro de certeza.
A imaginação e ingenuidade do Felix deixa-nos de sorriso nos lábios perante tempos tão maus.
Vale mesmo a pena!
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Now, I would have classed this short book as J rather than YA had there not been some horrifying scenes in it. The narrator, Felix, is a young Jewish boy who has been living in an orphanage in 1942 Poland, where his parents left him and from which he expects them to fetch him some day. What makes this such a chilling and hard-to-put-down book is Felix's naive and innocent view of the horrific events around him. It reminded me of John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pajamas in that respect. As the ...more
Aug 03, 2016 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finding this book in the childrens section of the library, I took it out for my daughter to read. Having glanced at some reviews I thought I would look at it first to see if it were suitable for an 11 yr old. When I had read a few lines I continued to read the whole book as it was such a compelling story. It was very harrowing and it would not be suitable for younger or sensitive readers. This story about an orphanage during world war 2 has a wonderful main character. Felix is Jewish and living ...more
Lisa Vegan
This is an all in one sitting type of read, and I did read it all in one day. It’s told from the point of view of a 9-10 year old Jewish boy, a storyteller, who’s caught up in the Holocaust. This story is powerful, compelling, and so very sad, yet somehow uplifting too, and even amusing every once in a while. I’ll be thinking quite a bit about Felix, Zelda, Barney, and some other characters. Felix is a fine narrator and everyone and everything come across very vividly. The author’s note at the e ...more
Sep 26, 2014 Paloma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books; I read this in grade 4 and I found it absolutely sad but amazing at the same time. I re-read it in grade 5 and still loved it but the second time I read it, I looked deeper into details, because I already knew what was going to happen, so I payed attention to all of the magnificent details Morris Gleitzman added to the story. I strongly recommend anyone reading this, it's a great book and I hope you enjoy it :)
Cameron Cross
Mar 13, 2017 Cameron Cross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rating this book was extremely difficult as it was tricky to detach my views on the writing itself from the topic being written about. Ultimately five stars felt fair as the story was expertly (as most Morris G stories are) told with all of the due respect and clarity it deserves and if that was not enough, introducing me to the realities of that era was.

The first book in the Felix and Zelda series is extremely short and normally that would be a deterrent for me, but the intensity of the events
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
Everybody deserves to have something good in their life. At least Once.

Once is the heartbreaking, harrowing but ultimately hope-filled story of Felix, a ten year old Polish Jewish boy living through the Nazi occupation of Poland and the Holocaust. He lives in an orphanage in the Polish mountains - his parents, who are booksellers, left him there when they went off to solve all sorts of book-related emergencies (according to Felix).

Life in the orphanage sounds pretty sad and desperate - the condi
Alex Baugh
May 02, 2012 Alex Baugh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
Once I read a story about a 10 year old Jewish boy named Felix who lived in Poland in 1942 and I felt a terrible sadness as I read.

Once is very poignantly narrated by Felix. He tells the reader that he had been placed in a Catholic orphanage by his parents, booksellers in Poland, and has lived there for three years. He also tells the reader that he likes to make up stories and is considered by others to be quite good at it. Felix always carries a notebook in which he writes down his stories and
Apr 03, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Felix's naivety is almost unbelievable at times. But then you think of the trauma a kid must go through, and how he was VERY misinformed by his parents- add that up with the number of deaths he sees, and you can sorta understand what the author was getting at. So here are some things I've learned from reading Holocaust books:

1. Being a Jew must suck. They got chased out of Israel by the Romans, which was when the fled to Europe, which was where many perished at the hands of the Nazis, which was
Aug 27, 2015 Elilith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lijmathon-2015
Una vez nos cuenta la historia de Félix, un niño Judío cuyos padres eran propietarios de una librería en Polonia y que tras la invasión alemana, sus padres llevaron a un orfanato de monjas para hacerlo pasar por católico y salvarlo de su destino en los campos de concentración. No obstante Félix tiene una desbordante imaginación y se niega a creer en la posibilidad de que sus padres han muerto, está convencido de que le envian señales secretas y además cree que los alemanes odian a los judíos por ...more
Libros Prestados
Hay libros con los que empiezas con mal pie. Esta historia comienza con Felix, un niño de unos 9 años que espera a sus padres escondido en un orfanato de monjas en la Polonia ocupada de 1942. 1942. Tres años de ocupación Nazi. Y en un momento dado, Felix se extraña de que los hombres que han entrado al orfanato sean nazis, porque la palabra parece nueva para él. A ver, no. Ni de broma. Un niño que ha vivido tres años de ocupación no puede no haber oído nunca la palabra. Un niño que ya lleva tres ...more
Mar 05, 2017 Richelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has surprised me!  I had to search more about Once and the author.  I found it was only written in 2005.  I would have thought it was written much earlier by the content.  It was written by Morris Gleitzman, an Austrailian.  This also left me a little amazed, as it felt like it was written by someone who had experienced at least some of the content.  Morris Gleitzman's research has shone from the pages of this little treasure.  If you want to find out more about Morris Gleeitzman's res ...more
I came across this one through YA Sync’s free audio summer program. Generally, I’m not into war stories, particularly those written from a child’s perspective. I just don’t have a good track record with them. I’ve read Milkweed and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, both of which are similar to Once. In both books, I wanted to slap the narrators for their naivety of their situations. Since this one was free and the audio was only 3 hours I decided to give it a try.

The story is told from Felix’s per
3.5 Holocaust books are always so hard to rate because regardless of the quality of the book I commend the author for trying to tell such an important and difficult story. This story takes the form of the perspective of a nine year old Polish boy trying to understand the horror of his circumstances. I think the makings of an excellent book were definitely here, and that the author did a commendable job, but it just didn't work for me. Having a nine year old at home certainly allowed me to really ...more
Jan 12, 2017 Bosorka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tenká knížka, která mě oslovila vnějškem (obálkou) a nezklamala ani vnitřkem (dějem). Příběh z válečného Polska vypráví devítiletý židovský chlapec, který utekl z "bezpečí" sirotčince, aby našel rodiče. Svět jeho optikou je jiný než dospělácký svět. Felixův svět je postaven na povídačkách, jeho bezmezná fantazie pracuje naplno, zvlášť ve chvílích, kdy nedokáže uvěřit tomu, co se děje ve skutečnosti. Jeho pohled je nevinný, jak jen nevinný může být pohled malého kluka, co první roky války strávil ...more
Once there was a boy named Felix who loved to make up stories. We meet Felix in an orphanage...he's not an orphan. His parents, who run a Jewish book store, have taken him there to be safe...and they will come back to get him soon. Once...

Felix sees the world through his young, innocent eyes and deeply misinterprets what's going on around him. Nazis come to the orphanage and burn books...Jewish books. Oh.

He runs away to find his parents...he stumbles onto a family on the ground with red around.
Mark Barrett
Nov 24, 2016 Mark Barrett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many, many authors have tried to present the atrocities of the Nazis in and around World War II, with varied success. Among these authors, Gleitzman must stand as among the best. The way he takes the main character, Felix, from misunderstanding through naive simplicity to full awareness and understanding of the suffering of his people is sublime. Despite us already knowing much of what Felix does not know at the start, we are taken on his journey with him and, as the understanding dawns, we are ...more
June Lee
Jan 08, 2014 June Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once is the first book in a series of books about a boy named Felix. This book happens during World War 2. After I read the book, I had a much better understanding of what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust and what people had to go through was. The ending of this book is a cliffhanger and you have to read the next book, Then, to find what happens to Felix and his friend Zelda.

I thought this book was a real page turner and I am glad that I started reading it, because I have really enjoye
Maddie E
Mar 19, 2015 Maddie E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
Once is a book about a boy called Felix who had lived in a Catholic orphanage for the last three years. He always hopes that his Jewish bookseller parents will come and get him. Alarmed by the sight of what he assumes are very important people burning Jewish books in the orphanage, he sets off in search of his parents to warn them. Morris Gleitzman brings heart and humour to the subject of the Holocaust (burning of books) in this amazing book. This book shows that no matter what even in the most ...more
Stephanie (Stepping out of the Page)
This book really makes an impact. Felix is so innocent and sometimes naive and this, juxtaposed beside the awful happenings, violence and brutality, makes for a really gripping and intriguing story. I adored Felix and his thoughts towards his environment. The writing was simple and it felt like it was genuine, the true, raw thoughts of Felix. The rest of the characters, especially Barney, had their own charm and also felt very real. This is a charming yet heartbreaking book which is very effecti ...more
A beautiful and tragic Holocaust story, told through the innocent eyes of a nine-year-old boy. Sheltered in a Polish orphanage, posing as a Catholic, he has no idea what's going on around him until he runs away to find his parents. What he witnesses he at first does not understand, but the reader does and gradually Felix's naiteve is stripped away. If you like Jerry Spinelli's Milkweed, you'll love Once.
Jul 22, 2011 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This reminded me of "The boy in the striped pajamas" because of the young boys voice and naivety. Although this is from the other perspective, a Jewish boy going through the holocaust. It was an interesting read and I'll have to continue on with the other books to find out what happens because it doesn't end with the end of the war. It was sad in parts and I'd be interested to know if a young person would understand the true sadness of it.
Joshua Jung
A heart-beating book about the holocaust that kept me at the edge of my seats. It made me think of my parents when I was reading this book because the main character lost his parents. It made me think about the benefits of having a family and how happy I am to be born in such a happy family.
Peter Batten
Jul 04, 2016 Peter Batten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this with my Year 5/6 class and loved the way that it prompted conversations about the atrocities that occurred in WWII in a way that was accessible to them. They are all so excited that there are sequels!
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Book Review--Once 1 3 May 10, 2017 05:13PM  
Do you think there should be a movie about Morris Gleitzmann's series Once Then Now After 14 62 Mar 12, 2015 01:16PM  
  • The Year of Goodbyes
  • Is It Night or Day?
  • Pennies for Hitler
  • The Mozart Question
  • Hiding Edith: A True Story
  • Warriors in the Crossfire
  • Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba
  • Black Radishes (Black Radishes, #1)
  • Daniel Half Human: And the Good Nazi
  • Emil and Karl
  • Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust
  • A Faraway Island (A Faraway Island #1)
  • Annexed
  • Sources of Light
  • The Silver Donkey
  • Yellow Star
  • Run, Boy, Run
  • Hitler's Canary
Morris began his writing career as a screenwriter, and wrote his first children's novel in 1985. His brilliantly comic style has endeared him to children and adults alike, and he is now one of Australia's most successful authors, both internationally and at home. He was born in England in 1953 and emigrated to Australia in 1969 so he could escape from school and become a Very Famous Writer.

More about Morris Gleitzman...

Other Books in the Series

Once (5 books)
  • Then (Once, #2)
  • Now (Once, #3)
  • After (Once, #4)
  • Soon (Once, #5)

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“Everybody deserves to have something good in their life. At least once” 112 likes
“Barney said that everybody deserves to have something good in their life at least once. I have. More than once.” 18 likes
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