Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be so Much More
Johanna Schaible’s Once Upon a Time There Was and Will Be So Much More is a marvel to hold and to behold. I’ve never seen a book quite like it. Unopened, it’s about 8 to 10 inches. The first spread shows bright magma crashing against black rocks: «Billions of years ago, land took shape.» The next pages are slightly smaller. «Millions of years ago, dinosaurs lived on Earth». As we hurtle forward through time, we move from the geologic to the historical to the local. «Thousands of years ago, people built some very large things». «One hundred years ago, a journey took a long time.» «A minute ago, the light was turned off».
Each time you turn the page, the page gets smaller and smaller, until you reach the middle oft he book, printed on a two-page spread the measures 3.5 by 8.75 inches. It feels quite intimate to see a picture so small in such a big book. It’s a shooting star with the words «Now! Make a wish!»
And then the book slingshots into the future. As the pages grow larger, and earlier compositions are cleverly repeated, the reader is asked to ponder a series of questions: «Who will you meet next month?» What will you look back on when you’re old?»
It’s a wonderful feat of bookmaking. No mere gimmick, the changing dimensions help situate the reader in the present and enhance the book’s emotional impact. And the questions give kids plenty to think about. Like the best books, this one will live in the reader’s mind for a long time after its cover closes.
Mac Barnett, NYTimes – Article
Photo by Hanser Verlag
Published in nine languages, 2021
56 pages, Hardcover
Special feature with smaller and larger pages
19,5 x 25,6 cm
Svenska Lilla Pirat Förlaget
Deutsch Carl Hanser Verlag
Italiano orecchio acerbo
Português Planeta Tangerina
English Candlewick Studio