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Once Upon a Twice
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Once Upon a Twice

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  342 ratings  ·  104 reviews
A cautionary tale for mice reminiscent of Carroll’s Jabberwocky!

Out in the open, in the clear,
Where any wisenmouse would fear,
Jam licks his paw, he grooms an ear,
And never hears approaching hisssss . . .

What will happen to the brave mouse Jam when he breaks the rules and goes for a moonlit adventure against the advice of the elder mice?

Award-winning illustrator Barry Moser
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 25th 2009 by Random House
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Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  342 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Barry Moser Fans / Children Who Love Poetry & Wordplay
In her picture-book debut, which follows the story of young mouse-rebel named Jam and his night-time adventures under a bright full moon, Denis Doyen crafts a cautionary tale in poetic language that will delight readers with its tongue-tripping creativity. Words are cobbled to words, and something new - the "qui-etiquette" of proper nocturnal mouse behavior, the "preycautions" necessary for small creatures to stay safe - is created. The tripping narrative is accompanied by artist Barry Moser's ...more
Lisa Vegan
The title is the best thing about this book. I love it.

The illustrations of the moon and water and foliage were lovely, the snakes and turtles and frogs were nice too, but I didn’t like the way the mice were drawn.

The story just didn’t do it for me. The message of a warning not to take stupid risks seems as though it should work okay enough, but I don’t like the way it was told, and I wasn’t wild about the poetry that makes up the story.

I see that I’m very much in the minority here. Perhaps it
Chris Callaway
Nov 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Fantastic wordplay, reminiscent of jabberwocky. Would be great for reading aloud. I can take or leave the cautionary tale, but maybe the point is that the dangerous near-misses make for a great story to tell the young-uns.
Oct 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What wondrous fun with words this plays,
Mice hide beneath the moon-strous rays,
Doyen and Moser duet amaze,
A book worth reading thrice twice!
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books, 2018
I love Doyen's way with creating words that you've never heard before but are completely intelligible.
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone! Especially teachers, 4-8
Unlike my sister, who unfairly gave this book only 2 stars, I love this piece! Lyrical poetry with beautiful language, even the nonsense words (which I prefer to call derived words); tone that's just right; nice theme; character development; beautiful illustrations. What more could you ask for? How about a teaching connection?

This is perfect for teaching context clues with upper elementary and middle school students. Give students the derived words on index cards prior to reading, and have them
Todd Strader
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like to have fun with wordplay, nonsense verse and rhyme. At times I have come up with some rather brilliant snatchets. But to weave it all together in a meaningful, poetic and well paced narrative that tells a great story takes mastery. And Denise Doyen shows it in spades with Once Upon A Twice. Her nonsense defines itself. You find yourself speaking this new language that you understand perfectly well. And it teaches a great lesson... Jamagination can be a good thing but you don't want to ...more
Oct 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Jam goes against the advice of his elders and decides to take a moonlit walk. In doing so, he finds out that the warnings they made were for a good reason - the world can be a dangerous place!
Doyen uses a fun rhythmic language and made up words reminiscent of Lewis Carrol or Dr. Seuss. I enjoyed the poetry of the book but not as much as the illustrations. They were rich and dark, conveying the sense of fear and the risks that Jam was taking.
However, this book may be a little to dark or scary
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
Unless you’re interesting in discussing the meaning behind the layered text to a five year old (which is about the interest level for this book) this is not a fantastic read to share with your kiddo. Maybe this would be a wonderful bedtime tale to share, guaranteeing sleeping toddlers before books end?? It would have been better received if it were in a different format like a compendium of poetry for older children.
Barb Middleton
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-book, poetry
Reminds me of Jabberwocky with the made-up words in this poem. I read it to 4 year olds and they could figure the story out from the pictures. Wonderful illustrations. It was hard to read out loud the first time. It could be used to study word play and teach poetic verse form.
Reminded me of Lewis Carrol and reading it aloud was delightful!
DJ Librarian
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, evocative, LITERATURE for children.

The mistake I see being made by folks giving this book 2 stars or so, is the feeling it has to be translated for children. It doesn't. Kids live in a world where they are constantly figuring out the meaning of words and situations by association or context. The flow of language and the masterfully done nonsense-word-portmanteaus will make sense to children (the wonderful art helps) if you just "let it flow" over them. It'll take a pre-read or two for
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
It definitely skewed toward the older picture book age (which normally I'm fine with), but I felt that there were so many made-up words, it was hard to read aloud. With her subsequent book, The Pomegranate Witch, there were fewer made-up words. Most of the stanzas were quatrains with an AAAB rhyme scheme. I love this author's unique voice (diction and syntax), but this debut book is a little too difficult for kids. I felt myself skimming at the end and had to really concentrate to finish. The ...more
Stefanie Burns
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Though it's a picture book, I was reminded of Roald Dahl's, The BFG with the mixed up words. Found them and the rhyming words to work against each other which resulted in a complex text. It made the reading more stilted than than it should have been as both the rhyming text and made up words needed to be deciphered. Not for beginning readers.
Jan 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-school, poetry
This book is clever, and with neat rhymes and numerous invented words.

the story just seemed to predictable, and not that fascinating.

worth rereading for the poetry, but not necessary for the story.
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the artwork, the word choices, and the way the story was told. Not sure I'm entirely on board with the message -- good for mice! 'Never take chances or question your elders' feels like not-so-great life advice for humans.
Annie MacPherson
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great Poetry!
Denise Bucklew
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book last night at bedtime to my granddaughters who stayed over night. It was a rhyming book. A quick read that kept the girls interested until the end even though it was nonsensical.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a tale of Jam the brave, yet foolish mouse who refuses to be cowed by anything or anyone. When Jam is repeatedly told not to go to the place by the water, he decides to ignore the Elder’s warnings and continues on his foolish adventure. Jam reaches the forbidden reeds and let’s his guard down as he basks in his victory over the elders. Yet, what lies in wait for Jam could bring an end to this new and exciting adventure with a ssssssnap of the mouth. Will Jam get the chance to realize his ...more
Kaitlyn Elmerick
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Genre: Modern Fantasy
Grade level: Intermediate/Upper Elementary
This is an older book that I think children would have a hard time reading because of word selection. I would not read this to my future class.
Megan McReynolds
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: el230a
I found this book a little hard to read. While the rhyming of it was clever, I think that children will have little to no grasp of the concept it's attempting to propose. I do think, however, that having the students think about some of the made-up words, and discuss what they could mean would be fun and engaging!
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, children-s

This is a poem about the dangerous adventure of a mouse named Jam. Jam slows the scurrying of his mouse clan to smell a rose. The elders of his clan have told him the dangers that lay wake in the night and holding them up can put them in danger. Jam decides he is wiser and unafraid and jumps the fence to go on an adventure. He is nearly killed by a snake, but escapes by hiding in a log. He lives to be older and wiser and tells the tale to the young mice about the dangers that live outside the
Viviane Elbee
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was written very poetically, but it is a little tricky reading this out loud without stumbling.
I love the cover illustration.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a text! Probably one of the most difficult poems that a young reader could decide to decipher, though very nicely done, considering what the author's goals were. Comparisons to the Jabberwocky are not misguided.
Kim Struyk
Sep 06, 2014 rated it did not like it
Doyen, D. (2009). Once upon a twice. New York: Random House Children’s Books.

No Journal necessary

choice book

I started reading this story, and lost interest very fast. They begin the book by using words that did not make sense in the sentence. I believe the author was going for a poetic approach, but instead it lost my attention. I was confused about what was happening. It took a few pages in to understand what was happening in the story, and then I was not too thrilled about the fact that the
Jan 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
The wordplay is the best part of Doyen's story of one mouse's nighttime adventure. Lots of made up almost words are used and the text falls into a rhythm surprisingly well since it's not always uniform. The illustrations by Barry Moser are done in a night palette of blue, black and green. While this palette makes the pictures very atmospheric it also means the book is more suited to a lap read than a storytime as children will want to look closely at the illustrations to find what's hidden in ...more
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: picture, read-aloud
Upfront, i wanted to say that my 9yo agreed with those who think this book is too dark. Upon finishing (it was to be our last book before bedtime), he said "That was kind of dark to end with. Can we read something else?" His 6yo brother didn't seem to mind. Your kid may vary!

And while the book is compared to Jabberwocky in the description and many reviews, the rhythm and meter made me think of Poe's Raven. Maybe that added to the somber mood experienced by my son? But I did enjoy the wordplay,
A wonderful nonsense verse in the tradition of the Jabberwocky. Mice are quickly scampering along when all of a sudden the line is jammed up by a mouse that has stopped to smell a rose. The mouse is warned against slowing down the line as there are dangerous creatures around. The mouse in question proclaims himself fearless and sneaks away from the group. Out in the open, exploring along the mouse is spied by a snake in the water. The snake attacks! Night creatures along the bank hold there ...more
Aug 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book is so full of nonsensical words that I was trying to explain what every other word meant instead of reading the story. I got tired of it after the first few pages.

Once upon a twice,
In the middle of the nice, (it was a nice night)
The moon was on the rice, (they are in a rice paddy)
And the Mice were scoutaprowl...(the mice are scouting and prowling)
They runtunnel through the riddle---
Secret ruts hid inbetwiddle

The language is kinda pretty and neat for an adult that understands
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jenny, Dame Primus
What a gorgeous book. I loved the illustrations and so did my children. My 3yo son requested this book two nights in a row! The poetry is amazing and clever. I loved the wordplay and the story had a great moral. It's a good jumping off point for a discussion with a child of any age. Plus with older children you can really delve into the way the author constructs her words.

Some examples:

"the Mice were scoutaprowl"

"Night's qui-etiquette is shattered!"

"The elder mouncelors whispercroon"

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Denise Doyen studied creative writing and art design at Stanford University and received her Masters in directing from the American Film Institute. For many years she worked in the world of children’s television. Her first picture book, "Once Upon a Twice", earned starred reviews, was a Junior Library Guild selection, a Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book(s) of 2009 and received the E.B. White ...more