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.

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.

Library Media Connection Reviews 2011 January/February
Jack's life gets turned upside down when "punk princess" May falls from the sky and recruits Jack to help save her grandmother, Snow White. May, who uses cell phones and computers, is suddenly dropped into a world where fairy tales are alive and in danger. Jack is training to become a brave knight whose quest is to fight dragons and save a princess, except he wants nothing to do with royalty. Jack and May learn to work together to overcome comical adventures with giants, the wolf king, candy houses, and the evil witch in order to save Snow White. The ending has a surprise twist. May's grandmother turns out to be the evil witch. It leaves readers looking forward to the next action-packed adventure. Riley does a wonderful job of combining the 21st century with the world in which fairies are alive, as well as creating characters that middle school students will relate to. Readers will cheer when the two heroes overcome obstacles and feel the betrayal that May feels once her grandmother' true identity is revealed. Recommended. LJ Martin, Media Specialist, Portville (New York) Central School ¬ 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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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