'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 3 August 2019

Review: Once

This is a book about the stories that shape you, that grow with you, that are part of you. It is about the stories that you carry in your heart and the stories that bind families together.

In this deeply personal picture book, Kate Forsyth shares the experiences that have shaped her own family. From emigrating to Australia, to living through war and civil rights movements, this book also gives us a history of Australia and what has shaped us as a nation.

Kate shares with us the stories of her family. A great-great-grandmother, who grew up in the shadow of a cursed castle, travelled across seas with a head filled with stories, to a life in a new land. And a great-grandmother, who searched for gold and grew a family, still surrounded by stories.

And then there was a grandmother who lived in dark times and a mother who stood up for her rights and forged her place in the world. And finally a child who grew up in a fast-paced world, filled with stories passed down and carried on.

This is a beautiful book that speaks to the heart of storytelling. It is about how the stories of our family shape who we are and how we see the world. It reminds us all to never forget where we come from and to carry and treasure our personal stories through our life’s journey.

Krista Brennan’s realistic and moving illustrations carry us through history, showing us the relationships and experiences that forge our own stories and futures. The vibrant illustrations have a whimsical feel that connect us with Kate’s ancestors and rather than feeling their burdens, we rejoice in their stories and their contributions to our lives. The little moments, such as a child on a grandmother’s knee or a young woman staring out at the sea, bring us close to the characters so we can feel the power of the stories of their lives.

This gorgeous book reminds us all of our own family experiences. How they have shaped us and our families, and contributed to our collective stories. This is a story of few words but a multitude of emotions. It makes us consider our past, present and future, and how our small family moments contribute to the collective narrative of our generation. It is a reminder that each of our personal journeys are part of us all.

Title: Once
Author: Kate Forsyth
Illustrator: Krista Brennan
Publisher: Wombat Books, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 April 2019
Format: Hard Cover
ISBN: 9781925563566
For ages: 4 - 8
Type: Picture Book