Featured KidLit: ONCE UPON A BOOK by Grace Lin and Kate Messner

Get A Sneak Peek at ONCE UPON A BOOK by Grace Lin & Kate Messner!

• A note to you from the Grace and Kate! •

GRACE: The art for this book was painted during the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was easy to envision how the character of Alice felt restless and confined (also it was very easy to get my daughter to do those poses with feeling!). Every day while working on it, I was reminded that what matters most is having a home with people we love. And that any exotic locale could still be gotten to without leaving home–though books! I loved working on a project that shows the magical power of story and I hope our book reveals that magic to kids so the gift can continue to give.

KATE: I’ve loved stories as long as I can remember. I grew up in a sleepy Upstate New York village, always wishing for more excitement, and the library was inevitably where I’d find it. I remember signing out stacks upon stacks of stories – everything from the Ramona series to novels with knights and castles to nonfiction about tornadoes and sharks. When things felt dull, there was always excitement to be found in a book! A few years ago, when Grace shared a painting she’d created for Children’s Book Week and asked if anyone might want to collaborate on a story built upon it, I felt that rush of a story-escape all over again. As soon as I saw the rich colors of Grace’s painting – a girl reading a book in front of a lush rainforest scene – I began to imagine a story about all the places that books can take us in our imaginations. I sent a few lines off to Grace, and from there, we collaborated on the journey that would become Once Upon A Book. It’s been an absolute joy to work on this project, and I can’t wait to share it with readers and let them in on the magic of stories, too.

About the Book

From Caldecott and Newbery Honoree Grace Lin and bestselling author Kate Messner comes a modern folktale about the joy of reading.

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She went to a place alive with colors, where even the morning dew was warm.

Alice loves to imagine herself in the magical pages of her favorite book. So when it flaps its pages and invites her in, she is swept away to a world of wonder and adventure, riding camels in the desert, swimming under the sea with colorful fish, floating in outer space, and more! But when her imaginative journey comes to an end, she yearns for the place she loves best of all.

Paired with vibrant illustrations, this lyrical, expressive story invites the reader to savor each page and indulge in the power of imagination.


* “Lin and Messner’s spectacular collaboration celebrates books and reading….A spellbinding ode to imagination and the transformative wonder of stories.”
—Kirkus, starred review

*“A thrilling journey of the imagination….Lin’s lush full-bleed spreads invite readers to take the journey with Alice.”
—Horn Book, starred review

About Grace Lin

Grace Lin is the recipient of the Children’s Literature Legacy Award and is the bestselling author and illustrator of over thirty books, including A Big Mooncake for Little Star (a Caldecott Honor), A Big Bed for Little Snow, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (a Newbery Honor), The Year of the Dog, and the Ling & Ting series. Grace is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and lives in Massachusetts.

About Kate Messner

Kate Messner is a New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty books for young readers. Kate’s award-winning titles include picture books like Over and Under the Snow and The Brilliant Deep; novels like Breakout and Chirp; engaging nonfiction like The Next President and the History Smashers series; the Ranger in Time adventures; and the Fergus and Zeke easy readers. Kate lives on Lake Champlain and invites you to visit her at katemessner.com.

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