Once Upon a Twice
December 2, 2009 By 10 Comments
I continue to look for picture book and easy reader texts that are worthy of Newbery consideration. While reading through the Kirkus Best Children’s Books, I came across the following description.
In the inspired silly style of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, first-time author Denise Doyen teams up with award-winning illustrator Barry Moser to unveil the delightful cautionary tale of a wayward mouse who dawdles in the moonlight and almost doesn’t live to warn others of his folly. Told in tightly rhymed verse peppered with wonderfully inventive words like riskarascal, scoutaprowl, qui-etiquette and set alongside Moser’s lush watercolor renderings of the nocturnal mouseling world, Doyen’s frisky nonsense poem begs for numerous rereadings.
Naturally, I sought out a copy and have been reading and reflecting on its Newbery potential. It does take a couple readings to find a natural storytelling voice that maximizes the rhythms and cadences of the text, but then it quickly becomes infectious.
Once upon a twice,
In the middle of the nice,
The moon was on the rice
And the Mice were scoutaprowl . . .
They runtunnel though the riddle–
Secret ruts hid inbetwiddle–
But one mousling jams the middle!
Whilst he goofiddles, others howl:
"Who’s the holdup? What’s the matter?"
Night’s qui-etiquette is shattered!
Eldermice race toward the chatter;
Scattered line, slowed to a crawl.
What do they find?
A riskarascal in repose,
A mouse who stopped–to smell a rose.
"You there! Jam Boy!"–now he knows
His name, bestowed in front of all.
"You brought our scamper to a drag!
Dropped preycautions, raised a flag!
Jam shrugs, he laughs, mouse-scallywag,
Brags, "I’m not a-scared of anything."
But he should be scared. He should be very, very scared . . .
Thanks to Random House for permission to reprint the first five stanzas of the twenty-four stanza poem.
While you’re waiting to pick up a copy at your local bookstore or library so that you can chime in, you can take a peek here at several recitings of the entire poem.