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Once by Morris Gleitzman
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Once (2005)

by Morris Gleitzman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Once (1)

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6974713,645 (4.17)63
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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
Ugh, this book was amazing. I love the story telling. I love the main character, Felix. I love Zelda coming into play. I love it all! The scenery almost made me want to be there on the grassy hills, but definitely not when all of that stuff was going on. I was surprised at how long it took Felix to stop coming up with stories for what was happening. I liked it though. It made it easier to read. It would have been a much different story if the character was older. Hell, there wouldn't have been a story because he wouldn't have left the orphanage to begin with. So much adventure wrapped into this short but perfectly sized book. I do want more.

I feel like a learned a bit during this book as well, like why some Jews got to live. I would definitely call this a little master piece of it's own. I didn't cry, but there was a lot to cry about. Felix was one really strong character and I think that's why I didn't cry. I was drawing off of his strength.

I never really thought a lot about the holocaust because I don't know anyone who was a part of it. Now I just wonder how Nazis could do it. Concentration camps were bad enough, killing men and women who resisted was bad enough, but babies? When Felix saw the baby with a bullet through his head, I was in shock. I can't believe that stuff happened. It's crazy. And even with the threat of getting shot, I'd think more people would fight and try to get away. The dentist has said the Jews didn't know they were getting sent to their deaths. I guess, most just thought they were getting relocated.

I wish the holocaust didn't last as long as it did. I'm glad it eventually ended. It does have me worried about other countries though, because there are genocides still happening. How does a government get people to kill innocents. I'd think they would all have to be mentally ill to do such a thing.

Slavery is intolerable, but genocide is just . . . unthinkable. I couldn't kill and animal, much less a human. And thousands of people were killing each other. Just horrible.

This book is in 1st person perspective. Felix is 10. I do not recommend this to young children due to the all of the violence, but a mature middle grades would be okay.
( )
  ZetherBooks | Jun 15, 2016 |
2015 Rating System: 5

Once by Morris Gleitzman (2013)

Middle Grades/10

Jewish Holocaust/Survival/Orphans

Poland 1942

1st Person Perspective/Present Tense

Book One of Three

163 pages

5 Stars
Meet the Characters
Felix is a 10 year old boy with an active imagination and a knack for telling stories. He’s spent three years and eight days in a Catholic orphanage, though he is neither an orphan nor a Catholic, and is ready for his parents to come get him.
Zelda is a six year old girl whose parents have just been shot.
Barney is a Jewish dentist who hides children in his cellar.

Once is a well-written, witty, and eye-opening tale of the Holocaust and a boy’s journey to reunite with his parents.

When Felix sees Nazis burning books, he fears for his parent’s bookstore. In an effort to warn them, he leaves the orphanage he’s been at for the past three years and walks to his old home. Unfortunately, his home town has changed.
Felix’s determination to find his parents leads him straight into dangerous territory. He should've went back the orphanage, where there were no gun shots or Nazis out to get him. Now, he’s trying to survive with a six year old named Zelda and a dentist who gives them shelter.
The outside world is brutal, but Felix keeps his hopes high and inspires others to do the same with the made-up stories he tells.
Eventually, he learns that stories can only do some much to mask the truth of what’s happening around him. He must decide what to do: stay with Barney and the other children or run for his life. The choice is his, but both could lead to his death.

The characters and all of the plot twists in this novel were believable, and Felix and Zelda were the most loveable characters one could hope for. It’s impossible not to root for them and sit on the edge of your seat when they’re in danger, which is always. A laugh might escape you every time Zelda uses her signature phrase. “Don’t you know anything?” Tears may fall as well. Despite the story being told through the eyes of a young boy, there was no shortage of death or gory details.

This book should only be read by mature audiences who can handle this hard-to-swallow material. On the plus side, Felix’s quick wit and strong personality are sure to help you a along to the satisfying sequel lead-in. If you do decide to read this book, which is highly recommended, you will surely connect with these characters and learn a bit more about what it was like to be a child living during the Holocaust.
  ZetherBooks | Jun 15, 2016 |
Wonderful. This book had great character building and a lovely buildup of understanding for the main character; he starts with a juvenile, sheltered understanding of the political strife of his country that blossoms slowly into realization. I intend to read the others eventually. ( )
  benuathanasia | Mar 29, 2016 |
This is a heart breaking tale of a young, naive, boy Felix. His parents, Jewish booksellers, hide him away in a remote Catholic orphanage in the mountains of Poland and disappear. He waits eagerly for them to return for three years and 8 months- telling and writing fantastical stories of where they are and what they might be doing. He runs away after he saw Nazi's burning the books at the orphanage, on a mission to find his parent's old bookshop and warn them as well as save the books. He has no idea who the Nazi's are- or what their real objective is when he runs. Because of this, he is constantly making up his own explanations for what he sees happening around him. When he finally realizes the truth, it is too late. He is captured and sent to a Jewish ghetto. Here he is saved by a kind, older man, and hidden in an abandoned cellar with several other orphaned Jewish children. They are found and put on the train to the camps. With hope dwindling, he finds a way to make his escape- and takes it. ( )
  danielle.trotter | Feb 3, 2016 |
- audiobook - A little Jewish boy named Felix lives in Poland at a Catholic orphanage, even though he knows for sure that his parents are still alive somewhere. He is waiting for them to come back and get him when he is forced into action by the arrival of strangers at the orphanage. The strangers are called "Nazis" and from what Felix can tell, they hate books and want to burn them. This is unfortunate for Felix, because his parents are booksellers. So he escapes from the orphanage to find his way back home and save his parents' books from being burned by Nazis.

It feels wrong to say that my favorite thing about this story was how short it was, but there really is a certain integrity to the fact that it doesn't drag on and on. I found Felix's very strong obliviousness and denial annoying at first, but he eventually comes around. His journey is very difficult - not just the physical journey, but his emotional realization that he has been shielded from the evil of the world his whole life. When the book ends his physical tribulations have not begun to end, but at least he is fully aware of where he stands in the world. I also enjoyed that some of the events in the book are based on true stories. Highly recommended for a short and emotional read (or listen, as the author is an excellent narrator). ( )
  norabelle414 | Jul 30, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Morris Gleitzmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gleitzman, MorrisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For all the children whose stories have never been told
The Slamovich Family
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Once I was living in an orphanage in the mountains and I shouldn't have been and I almost caused a riot.
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Follows a young boy as he escapes from a convent orphanage in the mountains of Nazi occupied Poland in search of his parents.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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