Once Upon a Time, the End: Asleep in 60 Seconds


Once upon a time
there was ...
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Once upon a time
there was a grown-up
looking for a book
with very short bedtime stories
for a kid who wouldn't go to sleep.
So the grown-up picked up this book
and read this flap
and took the book home
and read it out loud
and they both laughed
and fell fast asleep
Just like you.
The end.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Smart and funny and beautiful and pithy. I really love it and I'm very jealous."
-- Maira Kalman

"Better than Children's Benadryl when it's cocktail hour and the kid won't go to sleep."
-- Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket)

Publishers Weekly
Children revel in getting the upper hand on frustrated, exhausted adults. That's the concept behind this group of nearly a dozen desperately abbreviated bedtime stories (e.g., "The Two Little Pigs") and other not-so-subtly slumber-themed diversions (such as this riddle: "Why did the chicken cross the road? To go to sleep"). The stories are bracketed by visits to a boy's bedroom where a father, still dressed in work clothes, tries to satisfy his child's request for yet another story by "cutting/ Little words here and there/ So the stories would go faster,/ .../ And everyone could live happily every after./ The end." But the effect of this book will undoubtedly be far from soporific. Kids may well be reduced to giggling fits by the cumulative effect of newcomer Kloske's silly shorthand versions of old favorites. A minimalist, rhyming version of Red Riding Hood wraps up with the heroic woodsman saying, "Wow, I'm really tired, how about you?"; a familiar nursery rhyme about the old lady who lived in a shoe concludes, "When kids wouldn't go to bed,/ She sold them to the zoo." New Yorker cartoonist Blitt's watercolor-and-ink drawings exude a brittle sense of humor that's right in sync with the text's sad-sack perspective; at the same time, the artist's elegant ink line offers a visual foil to the storyteller's rising sense of hopelessness. But while the core joke here is on parents everywhere, chances are they'll be laughing too-after all, it's funny because it's true. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Every parent experiences frustration at some time or other because children will not go to bed or fall asleep. This book is a suitable book for parents at such a time. However, this book's sarcasm is not appropriate for children. The "Three Little Pigs" story is cut to two pigs. In the story of "The Little Red Hen" the barnyard animals answer as one voice, "I don't wanna work." Part of the text is hand lettered or in italics. The illustrations of ink and watercolor are amusing for frustrated parents. The anguished father, head in one hand and scissors in the other, is ready to cut the stories in half, while a little boy dances on the bed with a bear. The vanquished Goliath lands on an attractive bed and "looked like he was asleep." The publisher suggests a 4 to 8 age range but it might be better to put the book in the adult humor section and not confuse children when they answer questions on the "Leave no Child Behind" tests. 2005, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, Ages 4 to 8.
—Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Here's a fresh approach to fractured fairy tales: take one small child's insatiable demand for "Just one more story" and add a sleepy parent's wish to get the bedtime ritual over with as quickly as possible. The result is this collection of eight condensed folktales. For example, "Goldilocks and the Bears" begins, "There were some bears;/It doesn't really matter how many./There was a bunch./Let's get to the point:" and ends, "When the bears came back,/They found her asleep./She woke up, screamed, and ran home/So she could sleep in her own bed./Just like you." A few nursery rhymes ("Hickory, dickory, dock,/A mouse ran up the clock./The clock struck eight./Oh, my, it's late!/So the mouse went straight to bed") and jokes round out the book. Blitt's ink-and-watercolor illustrations are amusing, with fine lines and soothing colors underscoring the comedy in the characters and situations. The cover shows an intensely alert toddler on the lap of a sleeping father, surrounded by several dozing characters (Goliath sucking his thumb, for example, and Red Riding Hood conked out next to the wolf dressed as Grandma). The sometimes sly, sometimes outrageous, sometimes simply silly humor will go over the heads of most preschoolers, but it's right on target for their older siblings (and tired parents, of course).-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A very quick retelling of many nursery classics is the result when a tired father attempts to get his child to sleep faster by skipping a few words here and there. The Three Little Pigs suddenly become just two, while Little Red Riding Hood becomes a staccato poem: "Small girl / Red hood / Big wolf / In the woods." Hints from father to child abound, until most of the endings turn out to be slumber-related: "Is there a pea under your bed? Then what's your excuse? Go to bed." Making no headway, he shortens even further and steps up the hints-the old lady in the shoe sold her kids to the zoo when they wouldn't go to bed. Meanwhile, Blitt's illustrations must keep up with the furious pace. His simple watercolors in subdued colors manage to pack a lot of plot into a small space without seeming too busy. Readers leave the duo face down on the bed making Zzzz's, while books with their pages cut in half litter the room. Plenty of laughs for all those children who beg for "just one more story" before bed-and a great chuckle for their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689866197
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 8/30/2005
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 224,343
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey Kloske is a book editor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Barry Blitt’s illustrations have appeared on more than eighty New Yorker covers and have also graced the pages of The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly. He is the illustrator of Once Upon a Time, the End (Asleep in 60 Seconds) by Geoffrey Koske and The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn by Robert Burleigh, as well as other picture books. He lives in Roxbury, Connecticut.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2007


    I read this book in the store, and decided to buy it because it was so hilarious. My 6 year old boy LOVES bedtime stories. This one we can both read over and over and over again and still laugh!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2005

    A book any parent can stay awake reading

    For anyone who has read too many bedtime stories to count, this book is hysterical.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2011

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    Posted December 17, 2009

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