Once by Morris Gleitzman. 2010. March 2010. Henry Holt. 176 pages.
Once I was living in an orphanage in the mountains and I shouldn't have been and I almost caused a riot. It was because of the carrot.
Once is a holocaust novel. It stars a young Jewish boy, Felix. He loves stories. You might could even say he gets a bit carried away with the stories--with crafting a story. If Felix has a fault, it would be his innocence. Is innocence really a fault? It might be in dangerous times such as these. Because Hitler's got the power. And Felix, well, Felix doesn't understand what that means exactly for him, for his family, for all European Jews.
When we first meet Felix, he is living in a Catholic orphanage. He doesn't know why his parents--booksellers--left him there in the care of nuns. He doesn't understand that there is an enemy to be feared. That this enemy does more than just burn books. It's a hard lesson to learn, but can he learn it in time?
What I appreciated most about this one was the writing. He begins each chapter with the word once. And these are some powerful sentences--sentences that make you want to read more.
Here are a few examples:
Once I escaped from an orphanage in the mountains and I didn't have to do any of the things you do in escape stories. Dig a tunnel. Disguise myself as a priest. Make a rope from nun robes knotted together. I just walked out through the main gate. (29)
Once I escaped from an underground hiding place by telling a story. (99)
There is something about this one that just worked for me.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews