fantasy, humor, middle grade

Middle Grade Must-Reads – Once Upon a Tim

Once Upon a Tim (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
Written by Stuart Gibbs 
Illustrated by Stacy Curtis

There are more fairy tales than we know what to do with. And among that avalanche of books, there are a nearly countless number of Damsel-In-Distress + Knight-In-Shining-Armor tales. But I can guarantee you none of them are like this one. Seemingly inspired by Monty Python, author Stuart Gibbs has penned an age-appropriate satire of chivalrous literature. Tim is a peasant, like his parents before him, their parents before them, etc. But he doesn’t want to remain a peasant; Tim wants to travel and see the world. An opportunity arises when the Stinx kidnaps Princess Grace of the neighboring kingdom (it’s like a Sphinx but smellier). Prince Ruprecht announces a call for all brave enough to join him on his quest to save her.

Tim jumps at the opportunity but so does his best friend, Belinda. But girls can’t be knights, right? Belinda doesn’t care and disguises herself as a boy to go with Tim. They quickly find only them and the “village idiot” shows up…but don’t underestimate this supposed “idiot.” The party journeys through a landscape where everything is the X of Doom (i.e., Forest of Doom, River of Doom). The sense of humor here never lets up and makes the book a perfect pick for a wisecracking kid. It’s also a quick read at 160 pages. Oh, your kid wants more? There’s already a sequel, The Labyrinth of Doom, with promises of more to come!

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