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Once Upon a Tim #1

Once Upon a Tim

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A middle grade series about a peasant boy who wants to be a knight.

Tim is just a peasant, but he dreams big. He wants more out of life than to grow up to be a woodsman like his father. Unfortunately, the only route to success in the Kingdom of Wyld is to be born a prince. Still, Tim is determined. He is brave and clever and always tries to do the right thing—even though he rarely gets the credit for it.

Then news spreads that Princess Grace of the neighboring kingdom has been abducted by the evil Stinx and Prince Ruprecht needs a legion of knights to join him on his quest to rescue her. Tim finally has the lucky break he’s been waiting for, the opportunity to change his station in life. And even though he doesn’t know how to ride a horse or wield anything more deadly than a water bucket, he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure his dream becomes a reality.

160 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2022

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Stuart Gibbs

79 books2,910 followers

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5 stars
324 (28%)
4 stars
464 (41%)
3 stars
275 (24%)
2 stars
45 (4%)
1 star
13 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 195 reviews
Profile Image for Mid-Continent Public Library.
591 reviews195 followers
August 19, 2022
Tim has quite a tale to tell. Even though he comes from a long line of peasants, he decides to break the mold and try out to be a knight. His best friend Belinda disguises herself as a boy and both of them are chosen to accompany the prince on a quest. This is not your average fairy tale. For one thing, Gibbs has packed the narrative chock full of new vocabulary words like "malodorous" and marked them with an arrow in the text. So, feel free to enjoy this book with loads of pics. You are also expanding your vocabulary. On the mission to save the princess, they encounter many mishaps. The rescue from the Stinx is also an unusual event. Makes things interesting. Reminded me a bit of The Paper Bag Princess. Anyhoo, this looks like a fun series. Check it out!
*Review by Darla from Red Bridge*
Profile Image for Tim Joseph.
516 reviews6 followers
April 18, 2022
My boi Tim, saving kingdoms, spreading those good good Tim vibes!
Profile Image for Union County Library.
381 reviews34 followers
August 22, 2022
Gibbs' new series introduces Tim, a peasant in the Middle Ages who badly wants to improve his lot (he's been wearing the same clothes for 2 years, after all). When a chance comes to rescue a princess, Tim is off on his quest. His best friend Belinda (dressed as a boy) joins him on his funny and fun adventure. Filled with zany characters and mythical creatures, hopefully this is only the start of derring-do adventures for Tim and Belinda. One step above a transitional chapter book, this is perfect for grades 2 to 5.

- Reviewed by Shelley F.
Profile Image for Jessie The Librarian.
1,415 reviews71 followers
May 19, 2022
A super cute story for kids that teaches them the realities of peasant life while intertwining humor and fantasy into the tale. I loved how they broke down big vocabulary words for children and it filled my heart to see the story play out! Totally worth buying for the kids in your family!
Profile Image for Skip.
3,351 reviews413 followers
April 3, 2022
This is a story about a peasant named Tim, who wants to do more with his dull, repetitive life. He and his best friend (Belinda) volunteer to become knights to assist Prince Ruprecht and his magician to rescue a princess from a monster Stinx. I think this story has been told too many times, and the humor (and vocabulary lessons) were not enough to make this one anything special. Read Stuart Gibbs' Moon Base Alpha series instead.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books191 followers
March 1, 2022
Saving a princess takes on an entirely new meaning with tons of humor packed in along the way as well as more than a few surprises.

Tim is a peasant and has generations of peasants to back up his line. While the rest of his family and ancestors are quite satisfied with their position in life, Tim is frustrated. The only way out is for him to become a knight. When the opportunity arises, he takes it without any questions asked. And that is exactly the problem.

This one is written in first person with Tim as the star, which even he admits is odd since the Prince and Princess should be taking over the tale. It immediately sets him up as the perfect underdog, and one with a touch of sarcasm as well as tons of heart and determination. Tim doesn't have any super talents, nor are his decisions always spot on, but that's what makes him so easy to connect with. He's a normal person, while those around him...even the world...is not.

Humor mixes with adventure before adding even more humor. There are so many silly quirks and not-quite-right situations that it's impossible not to smile and even snort a giggle or two. The traditional views of kingdoms and knights in a fairytale setting are presented before being flipped upside down. The silliness then mixes with fantastical creatures and unique characters, and all of that without forgetting some more serious themes, too.

Several truths about peasantry and life at that time do come to light. Also, the author presents more difficult words purposefully along with their definitions. To round it off, there are a couple meaningful messages concerning life, how to see past facades, and more. All of this still remains neatly padded within the humor. Oh, and not to forget the illustrations. Without these, the book definitely wouldn't be the same.

So, yes, I do recommend this one to readers who want tons of laughs but also enjoy a little fantasy and adventure along the way. I received an ARC and really enjoyed this one a lot.
23 reviews4 followers
January 5, 2022
This book is a contemporary take on the traditional idea of a fairy tale. Gibbs tells a humorous story of a pheasant's journey to becoming a knight, with some fun twists and turns. This early chapter book is perfect for fans of Grimm's fairy tales and THE SISTERS GRIMM series.

Gibbs also breaks the barrier idea of how girls are not supposed to be knights through the idea of dressing up as the opposite gender. This is similar to Deborah Sampson.

There is an educational element of highlighting vocabulary words; this element makes this chapter book a good recommendation for an up-and-coming reader in or out of a classroom setting.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Henry.
42 reviews
March 23, 2022
This was a great book. The message at the end was a good message. Don’t judge others by what you hear, but take some time to see if it’s true is a great motto to live by. Stuart Gibbs’ new series did not disappoint!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ethan.
142 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2022
This book was hilariously awesome.
With a cool storyline, great characters and lots of humor, this is a great book for younger children. And older ones! (Like me....!)
Profile Image for Lovely Day.
713 reviews96 followers
November 19, 2022

A really cute adventure with two friends and their quirky companions. This read very much like a classic, I got big sword in the stone vibes!! 👍🏻
Profile Image for Cadee.
292 reviews6 followers
March 29, 2022
"This was an adventurous book and I look forward to more." -Cadee, age 9
Profile Image for Julie.
703 reviews13 followers
April 18, 2023
Tim is a peasant who knows the only way out of that life is to become a knight. When Princess Grace needs rescued (or does she?), Tim and his best friend Belinda set off to help the Prince save her. Honestly, I'm not sure why this author is so popular based on this book. I thought it was kind of dumb.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,983 reviews2 followers
July 17, 2022
In the manner of Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) - complete with big word "warnings" and definitions, this author relates the story of Tim, a young man who wants to be better than a peasant. Humorously told and covers serious situations without taking itself too seriously. Definitely worth the hour or so it will take to read.
Profile Image for Nate Piccini.
25 reviews
February 27, 2023
This may be a middle reader book, but I was delighted to read it to my kids. It has great messages about blind faith and expectations. Also thrilled to hear that there are two sequels!!
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,487 reviews72 followers
March 19, 2022
Fans of Gibbs’ FunJungle, Spy School, Charlie Thorne, and Moon Base Alpha books will be anxious to read this new series opener. But readers of those other series are looking for detailed plots with lots of twists and possible conclusions that all require focus and some thinking as the books develop. Once Upon a Tim is silly fun and will likely generate some laughter among a slightly younger crowd than those who read his other works. Tim is a peasant who is not satisfied with the nowhere his life is going and decides to seek out adventure as a knight alongside Prince Ruprecht and the wizard Nerlim as they set out to save a kidnapped princess. Things don’t quite go as planned and Tim and his friend Belinda spend the course of book 1 doing all the work for the lazy, dastardly duo and, ultimately, rescue the princess. The slapstick humor is non-stop and the sketches by illustrator Stacy Curtis will keep readers in grades 2-4 engaged until the end. Added bonus which will be appreciated by teachers/parents: Frequent “IQ Booster arrows” emphasize wonderfully descriptive words which are defined as the story goes along. Readers of books such as Big Nate, Max Crumbly, and King of the Bench will enjoy the series, but librarians should not target this book towards the same fans as those who read Gibbs’ other, more challenging, series.

Thanks for sharing the print arc with #BookAllies, Simon & Schuster.
Profile Image for Thompson McLeod.
176 reviews2 followers
March 17, 2022
Fun, frolicking, wacky, goofy and wonderful, Once Upon a Tim delivers the first book in a promising series by master middle grade writer Stuart Gibbs who is able to deftly capture the humor and voice of his target audience.

Tim is a poor peasant boy who explains the hierarchy of medieval life to the reader: if you're born a prince, you have it made. If you're born a peasant, you can NEVER move up. You and all your offspring and their offspring will live in a hut with dirt floors and no windows, you'll eat gruel every day and you'll wear your only outfit every day because you don't own a change of clothes, but Tim dreams of more.
When Princess Grace is taken from a neighboring kingdom, Prince Ruprecht announces he will take volunteers to become knights and help him save the princess from the evil Stinx, a malordorous (IQ booster, winking at you, Stuart Gibbs) monster who is particularly smelly and awful.

With best friend Belinda by his side (she's a girl, but she, being a girl has it even worse than Tim does) in disguise as a boy, Tim with his fr-dog Rover, the Prince, Belinda and the Ferkle, the village idiot (every village has one), they set off the save the princess and kill the Stinx. First, they encounter bloodthirsty killer butterflies and defeat them with Rover's help.

Using jokes and IQ boosters (clearly identified and explained) only a storyteller like Stuart Gibbs could pull off this witty fairy tale without losing the pace of the story. Middle grade humor abounds with many a bathroom joke and Tim's narration is not only funny, but spot-on for readers.

The only misstep is the IQ booster for cantankerous. Gibbs uses this sentence to show the word's meaning, "The cantankerous librarian kept shushing me every time I laughed about the hilarious book I was reading." Librarians may have shushed kids when Gibbs was a boy, but this MODERN librarian takes offense at spreading the stereotype that librarians are mean and expect perfect quiet in the library. Modern libraries are actually quite loud and full of energy. Mr. Gibbs, you should visit a middle school library soon.

Highly, highly recommended and sure to be a New York Times bestseller (like all Stuart Gibbs books), Once Upon a Time is winner! This book is likely to be hugely awarded come award season. One of the best books of 2022, and you heard it here first.

Ages 8-12.
Profile Image for Chris.
1,891 reviews75 followers
December 12, 2022
Humor based on satirizing medieval fairy tale social structures and the power of expectations and perceptions are at the heart of this fractured quest to save a princess from a dragon(ish beast). The fact that this type of tale has been fractured before doesn't diminish the amusement of this version. It's knowing and witty and fun. I enjoyed it highly.
We were happy too, because we had survived the Forest of Doom.

Now all we had to do was make it over the River of Doom, the Chasm of Doom, and the Mountains of Doom.

"Rats," I said.

"What's wrong?" Belinda asked.

"I was hoping that we'd at least have a brief break before encountering something doom-y," I told her. "Like maybe, the Fields of Joy. Or the Path of Pleasantness. I'd even be all right with a Swamp of Mediocrity."

. . .

"Wait, Your Excellency! There's something suspicious about all of this."

"Suspicious?" Ruprecht repeated mockingly. "Nerlim, stop being such a scaredy-cat. Everything here looks perfectly fine!"

"That's what I'm afraid of," Nerlim said. "This is called the River of Doom. Why would it be called the River of Doom if there wasn't any doom?"

"Maybe it was a marketing thing," Ruprecht said. "Like when the Vikings discovered Iceland and Greenland, and Iceland was nice, while Greenland sucked eggs, but the Vikings didn't want anyone else to know that, so they called the icy island Greenland to trick people into going there and called the green island Iceland so that everyone would avoid it. My uncle, King Snodgrass, did the exact same thing. He discovered a beautiful place to build a kingdom, but he didn't want anyone invading him, so he named it Plague City, and now everyone avoids it like, well, the plague."

"Plague City is actually nice?" Nerlim asked, surprised. "I'd heard that place was a cesspit."

"Exactly!" Ruprecht said. "It's all marketing!"
976 reviews7 followers
April 2, 2022
When I see a book written by Stuart Gibbs I know it is one I can recommend to a student even if I haven't read that particular book because everything I have read has been so enjoyable and well done. Once Upon a Tim had me laughing out loud as I read. The idea of hearing a "fairy tale" from the point of view of the peasant, and a frank peasant at that, rather than the prince or princess is very fun to read. I also love the IQ booster words in the book that had me scrambling to look up some of their pronunciations since Tim so kindly provides the definitions. This is a wonderful book to add to a fairy tale unit, a Stuart Gibbs book club, or just on a day you want to read a wonderfully funny and insightful book. Can't wait for book #2.
Profile Image for Marilyn .
296 reviews22 followers
September 21, 2022
I am, as usual, way behind re posting what I've read. Months behind. I guess I'd rather be reading than creating a review. (And then there are other matters that get in the way...) However, I DO need to keep track of my books-read - and I am trying to catch up! In fact, I am going to try to "review" at least one or two books per day, most likely attempting to keep it short. I am starting with at least one children's book (pretty much a Middle grade novel) - titled ONCE UPON A TIME and written by Stuart Gibbs.

I enjoy reading a Middle grade or YA book once in a while. There are so many wonderful ones out there! And then I can pass the MG ones on to a youngster living a few USA states away from our NY capital area location. That young man loves to hear stories, and his mom enjoys reading them to him. He's now learning to read more on his own too! I expect he will love Gibbs's tale of a boy who wanted more out of his life than to remain a peasant like his parents are and all his ancestors were. And he is willing to fight dangerous beasts and ogres and to confront nasty humans in order to become a hero.

Author Stuart Gibbs provides a wonderful story in his ONCE UPON A TIM about a unique and determined boy, unlike any other "hero" and certainly nothing like the Prince who was supposed to be the brave person on their mission! It was a fun read - worthy of the 5-star review I am now posting!
Profile Image for Candice.
354 reviews7 followers
January 29, 2022
Once upon a time, there was a peasant named Tim who didn’t want to be a peasant. He and his best friend were presented the opportunity to become knights for Prince Ruprecht as he saved Princess Grace from the stinx.

Tim is quite intelligent and loves to use brain boosting words while his best friend is quite good at thinking on her feet. While on his quest her learns many valuable lessons, and there are plenty of laughs along the way.

Coming out March 1! Pre-order & read it!!
Profile Image for Heather.
68 reviews2 followers
July 8, 2022
If you’re not already a fan of Stuart Gibbs, this clever and humorous illustrated novel might pull you in. Told from Tim’s first-person perspective, he and his best friend, Belinda, want to escape life as peasants and so become knights, embarking on a quest with an unpleasant prince and a sketchy wizard, as well as Tim’s fr-dog. (Rover was a dog…until he got turned into a frog.) I especially appreciate the challenges to social norms and expectations of girls and princesses, plus all the vocabulary lessons throughout. Target audience: readers in grades 2-5.
Profile Image for rather_b_reading.
339 reviews4 followers
February 13, 2022
I received this book as an ARC from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in exchange for my honest review. Once Upon a Tim follows a ragtag group of heros on a quest to save a princess, but things are never what they seem. This middle grade adventure story written by Stuart Gibbs and Illustrated by Stacy Curtis combines humor with vocabulary words and a challenging of gender norms and societal expectations. I am not the target audience, but I did laugh and I think my elementary students would enjoy this book (which might be a series?? Foreshadowing) Overall, fun for the kids with enough educational value and humor for teachers, parents, and guardians to enjoy too. 
Profile Image for Brian Burak.
101 reviews
May 2, 2022
I am 40-years old and Stuart Gibbs is just straight up my favorite author at this point. We read all of his books out loud together as a family and it's one of my favorite things to do. This new series is going to be awesome. His IQ boosters are hilarious and informative. The characters are delightful and the illustrations add a fun new dimension to his work. Loved it.
263 reviews11 followers
April 13, 2022
This was a cute, fast read but not targeted to the right age group in my opinion. The vocabulary was appropriate for MS but the storyline, illustrations and even themes seemed more for older elementary school.
Profile Image for Amanda.
640 reviews
May 22, 2022
Highly recommend this book! It was so fun to read aloud. The kids all loved it (ages 11, 8, 6, and 4). I loved the humor, the IQ booster words the author included and explained in a manner that was fun and educational for the kids. I loved the moral of the story (“so if someone tells you something, maybe ought to investigate whether or it’s true or not, instead of blindly believing it”). Just a well done, fun read!
440 reviews17 followers
June 27, 2022
Oddly, I think this would’ve been even better had it been even more “educational“. Maybe if it had had fewer fairytale elements and been more about the unglamourousness of the Middle Ages. Although, then there is no way Tim and his family should be able to read. This felt a little bit like Brown’s Lucy & Andy Neanderthal books which I really liked.
101 reviews
October 21, 2022
I dunno what it says about me that I had more fun with this kids' book than most of the other things I've read this year, but this book was a blast. More than once it had me cracking up and getting funny looks from people nearby. Stuart Gibbs has a wonderful sense of humor. There's really not much more to say here, the back of the book blurb and 1st chapter you can read for free (amazon sample) give you a 100% accurate picture of what the book is. But being straightforward and knowing what to expect is not a bad thing. I was still surprised at a couple points and laughing all the way through.
437 reviews2 followers
April 12, 2023
A super fun read aloud to my 5 and 9 year old. This book is funny, adventurous, clever and highly illustrated. We all wanted to keep reading. It was almost a mock fairy tail. The wizards name was nerlin not Merlin. There was a stinkx not a Sphinx. Just tons of play on words. We laughed at the silly things that happen . The perfect fast read loud for the end of the year. We will be continuing on with this series for sure.
Profile Image for Lisa Yee Swope.
306 reviews19 followers
September 1, 2021
I love a good Renaissance Faire. My home faire is PARF and I now live near CRF, and among my faire-vorite things are all the oddities that you almost certainly wouldn't find in the Renaissance but which are all over the Renaissance Faire. But there's never been a hero like Tim before. And Tim, in whom I must mention, I can see elements of every Tim I've ever known, Tim lives in that Renaissance Faire world, where everything on the map is the whatever OF DOOM and it makes perfect sense for a peasant, who traditionally would be illiterate, here throws out Lemony Snicket-style SAT prep words and explanations. This would be particularly fun as a readaloud, as long as you didn't expect the kids to quietly fall asleep after getting super revved up by the reader laughing in delight the whole way through.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 195 reviews

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