Staff Picks by Maureen

Maureen, owner of Once Upon A Time pictured with daughters Amelia and Jessica

Maureen (shown here with her two daughters, Amelia, and store manager, Jessica) is the proud owner of Once Upon A Time and is always trying to find the time to read more books after working 7 days a week at America's Oldest Children's Bookstore. She loves mysteries (she started the Adult Mystery Book Club), action-packed adventures, and the perfect picture books for story time. 

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Brave in the Woods Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781984813992
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - January 5th, 2021

Tracy Holczer’s Brave in the Woods is written for a young reader who enjoys fairy tales, discoveries and strong family ties. This well- crafted, intergenerational story is heartfelt and carries the reader’s heart thoughtfully along with Juni’s quest. A gift of storytelling filled with curses –both good and bad - this emotional tale will leave you with the truths of joy, grief and grace. Don’t miss Holczer’s breakout novel. 

(Contemporary Novel, ages 9+) - Reviewed by Maureen


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Bump Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780063007987
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 26th, 2021

Matt Wallace’s middle grade debut is a fast-paced dynamic story of 12-year old MJ who dreams of becoming a lucha libre – or wrestler. This unconventional sport has been shared & loved with MJ’s dad, Papi, who is now no longer in MJ and her mom’s life. Hiding the truth from herself (& readers), MJ goes to great lengths to avoid seeing her dad. MJ’s poor treatment by her former gymnastic teammates has alienated her as well as the struggling to make sense of middle school dynamics. Finding an outlet for her joy, friendship and a chance of being in the ring wrestling to “storytell”, her next door neighbor, Mr. Arellano, has offered her a chance to train at his wrestling academy. I was totally enthralled by the deep character development and uber-realistic scenes Wallace has painted with respect to MJ’s relationship with her now-single parent Mom as well as the wrestling basics & behind-the-scene techniques. The secondary plot of a cruel and vengeful athletic commissioner who wants to shut down Mr. Arellano’s academy leads to a hair-raising climax where MJ needs to save the day. Girls who enjoy sports that may not be typically portrayed in MG literature will shout for joy with MJ’s perseverance, her can-do attitude, as well as her vulnerabilities. This novel rings as true as the bell at the end of a match – A WINNER!

(Contemporary Novel, ages 8+) - Reviewed by Maureen


OMG - this is a fantastic book that will make you hum along with all the musical legends depicted here in stunning photos shot by pioneering music photographer Sherry Rayn Barnett.  In my younger years, I was a paid musician with dreams of becoming the next Carole King and/or Linda Ronstadt.  Sherry's photos of these women, along with Carly Simon, Nina Simone, Bonnie Raitt and so so many others bring alive the music scene of both NYC and LA during 1969 - 1989.  A who's who of early images of greatness -- mostly at live concerts -- of Janice Joplan, Prince, and Ronstadt (to name a few).  I LOVE this book and it would make a terrific gift to someone who enjoyed the music, who wanted to be a famous rock'n'roll star, or anyone interested in early pop / folk/country music history, especially women artists.  Sherry's pictures capture the essence of many of these artists.  We have signed copies, while supplies last.

(Photography book) - Reviewed by Maureen


The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338652260
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Scholastic Inc. - August 3rd, 2021

Helen Rutter’s sparkling debut – The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh – is a heartwarming and yes, laugh out loud contemporary middle grade about 6th grader Billy Plimpton who dreams of being a comedian. He has a few roadblocks in his way – mainly his stutter and inability to get past his own anxieties. Working through these blockades with him, he has a great support group – his lunchtime friend Skyla, Mr. Osho his homeroom teacher and musical mentor, his grandmother Granny Bread, among others. However, his relationship with friends and a bully named Blackmore give this resilient, and ultimately self-aware young man the courage to be himself. Readers will be rooting for Billy through the last page of this uplifting tale. Terrific!

(Contemporary Novel, ages 9+) - Reviewed by Maureen


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Weird Kid Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062970602
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: HarperCollins - July 27th, 2021

Greg van Eekhout’s Weird Kid is the kind of book you could put in the hands of almost any young reader and soon you’d hear the soft chuckles of delight in seeing a fully-formed kid (12-year old Jake) with a bit of a shape-shifting problem trying to navigate middle school while not growing extra thumbs or feathers in front of his unsuspecting classmates. Unexplained sinkholes, butt jokes, blob-shifting goo and maybe-nefarious government agents ratchet up the action & humor. One of the many strengths of this book is the strong, non-romantic, bond between the comic-book loving duo of protagonist Jake and his friend, Agnes, who both relate to crime solving/investigative superheroes Night Kite and Star Hammer. There is so much to love packed in this book – family, music, guitars, comics, & of course, van Eekhout’s signature canine companion. 

(Contemporary Novel, ages 9+) - Reviewed by Maureen


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Our Woman in Moscow: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780063020788
Availability: Available to Order from Our Warehouse
Published: William Morrow - June 1st, 2021

So much to love about this twisty, complex spy novel about two American sisters caught up in intrigue, love and war during the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War. Williams' strong grasp of character among Foreign Service employees, brings palpable ethos & possible understanding to drinking excesses among those deemed with knowing and carrying out sometimes intractable diplomatic missions, all-the-while having family members having to pick up the pieces of broken hopes and dreams. A page-turning wonder, this is historical spy fiction at its best. 

(Adult Historical Fiction) - Reviewed by Maureen


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Misfit in Love (Saints and Misfits) Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534442757
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - May 25th, 2021

An utterly delightful rom-com that has thoughtful Janna, soon to be starting college in the fall, coordinating her brother's almost-wedding ceremony with friends, family and a trio of possible love interests. A hysterically funny first chapter -- literally laugh-out-loud - will pull readers in immediately to stand by Janna as she navigates her faith, family struggles and heart in this strong follow-up sequel to her debut Saints and Misfits

(Young Adult romance, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Maureen