Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Happy Book Birthday, Once Upon a Tim by Stuart Gibbs

The world and life is getting too seriously lately, and that's why I'm thrilled to have today's read up for everyone to see. This does come from a best-selling and well-known author, and it reads very well. It also takes a totally different turn from many other books he's written, which I appreciate (and find impressive). 

Now, after you read this one, you'll want to take a look at the cover again because you'll see it in a totally different light. Let's just say that while I did expect the humor (and loved it!), there was much more in this one and some was set in a wonderfully subtle way.

So, off we go!

by Stuart Gibbs
Illustrated by Stacy Curtis
Simon & Schuster
Middle Grade Humor
160 pages
ages 7 to 10

Join New York Times bestselling author Stuart Gibbs in this first book in a hilarious, highly illustrated new middle grade series about a peasant boy who wants to be a knight, perfect for fans of Max & the Midknights.

Tim is just a peasant, but he dreams big. He wants more out of life than to grow up to be a woodsman like his father. Unfortunately, the only route to success in the kingdom of Wyld is to be born a prince. Still, Tim is determined. He is brave and clever and always tries to do the right thing—even though he rarely gets the credit for it.

Then news spreads that Princess Grace of the neighboring kingdom has been abducted by the evil Stinx and Prince Ruprecht needs a legion of knights to join him on his quest to rescue her. Tim finally has the lucky break he’s been waiting for, the opportunity to change his station in life. And even though he doesn’t know how to ride a horse or wield anything more deadly than a water bucket, he’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure his dream becomes a reality.



Saving a princess takes on an entirely new meaning with tons of humor packed in along the way as well as more than a few surprises.

Tim is a peasant and has generations of peasants to back up his line. While the rest of his family and ancestors are quite satisfied with their position in life, Tim is frustrated. The only way out is for him to become a knight. When the opportunity arises, he takes it without any questions asked. And that is exactly the problem.

This one is written in first person with Tim as the star, which even he admits is odd since the Prince and Princess should be taking over the tale. It immediately sets him up as the perfect underdog, and one with a touch of sarcasm as well as tons of heart and determination. Tim doesn't have any super talents, nor are his decisions always spot on, but that's what makes him so easy to connect with. He's a normal person, while those around him...even the world...is not. 

Humor mixes with adventure before adding even more humor. There are so many silly quirks and not-quite-right situations that it's impossible not to smile and even snort a giggle or two. The traditional views of kingdoms and knights in a fairytale setting are presented before being flipped upside down. The silliness then mixes with fantastical creatures and unique characters, and all of that without forgetting some more serious themes, too.

Several truths about peasantry and life at that time do come to light. Also, the author presents more difficult words purposefully along with their definitions. To round it off, there are a couple meaningful messages concerning life, how to see past facades, and more. All of this still remains neatly padded within the humor. Oh, and not to forget the illustrations. Without these, the book definitely wouldn't be the same.

So, yes, I do recommend this one to readers who want tons of laughs but also enjoy a little fantasy and adventure along the way.

And here they are...

Stuart Gibbs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Thorne series, FunJungle series, Moon Base Alpha series, and Spy School series. He has written screenplays, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows, been a newspaper columnist, and researched capybaras (the world’s largest rodents). Stuart lives with his family in Los Angeles. You can learn more about what he’s up to at StuartGibbs.com.

Stacy Curtis is the illustrator of The 7 Habits of Happy Kids series by Sean Covey and the Once Upon a Tim series by bestselling author Stuart Gibbs. He lives with his wife and dog in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

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