Reviews for Half Upon A Time


Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Jack dislikes princesses. But when one falls out of the sky, he gets swept up into adventure. Jack and Princess May are both related to famous fairy-tale characters, and they encounter other familiar figures on their journey. The lively, humor-filled story is chock-full of action, which keeps the intricate plot moving. An unresolved ending will leave readers eagerly anticipating a sequel. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2010 August #1

This fractured fairy tale features a hip contemporary voice but relies too heavily on relayed history. Opening with a line that captures both context and fabulously sardonic attitude--"Once upon a time, Jack wouldn't have been caught dead in a princess rescue"--Riley quickly establishes his protagonists: Jack, pragmatic but mopey, waiting for any chance to rescue a princess, and May, sporting blue-streaked hair, a cell phone and a Punk Princess T-shirt, who has dropped in from another realm. Jack assumes that May's a princess; May knows only that her grandmother was kidnapped. They set out to rescue grandma, picking up an elegant prince who annoys Jack by being competent. May's voice is more often feistily modern ("Then you went and got eaten! What's that about!?") than stilted (she describes grandma as "[s]o full of life"), but she's positioned within the narrative mainly to be fought over and protected. Unfortunately, plot twists and revelations all derive their meaning from past events in Jack's world, forcing the text to be so expository that emotional investment never quite catches up. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 March

Gr 5-9--In his twisted fairy-tale world, hapless young Jack fails his princess-rescuing test, but fate gives him another chance when a circle of blue fire deposits May, wearing a T-shirt that reads "Punk Princess," into his cottage. Jack recognizes her as a true princess and they set off on a quest to find her grandmother, Snow White. Joined by super-smooth Prince Phillip, and staying just ahead of the giant green Huntsman, they journey to the Black Forest, ride the wicked wolf's back, release a genie when they break Red Hood's magic mirror, and spend time in the dungeon of a fairy queen before finding Snow White and seven dwarfs in the Palace of the Snow Queen. Jack is perennially clumsy, and May has a quick, sharp tongue until she trades her sarcasm to save Jack's life. Snappy dialogue, fast-paced action, unexpected twists, and the inevitable conflicts of a threesome made up of two teenage boys and a pretty girl make this an enjoyable read. A whirlwind ending upsets everything, setting the stage for a sequel.--Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD

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