Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Once by Morris Gleitzman

Once I escaped from an orphanage to find Mum and Dad. Once I saved a girl called Zelda from a burning house. Once I made a Nazi with toothache laugh.

My name is Felix. This is my story.


Once is very similar to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, both in style and theme. It's very easy to read, is told from the perspective of a young child, and is set during the events of the Holocaust.

Felix is almost ten years old, and is living in an orphanage in Poland that his parents sent him to in 1939. Three years and eight months later, he receives a whole carrot in his soup, which he thinks is a sign from his Mum and Dad, and that they are finally coming back for him. This inspires him to escape from the orphanage, and journey across Poland in the hope of finding his parents.

Along the way, he encounters Nazis (whom he thinks dislike Jews because of their love of books), an orphaned young girl, Zelda, and a dentist hiding a group of young Jewish children.

Felix's innocence and naivete is a big part of this story, as he often mistakes truly horrific events for mistakes or accidents. A child's viewpoint is perhaps the most shocking way to depict the Holocaust, as children see so much more than adults, and see things in a different way.

This story is funny in parts, especially with Felix and his childlike thoughts of carrots and nuns. It quickly becomes shocking and more difficult to read, and this is due to Felix experiencing the unspeakable horrors of war, and what was really going on in Poland in 1942.

For anyone who likes war fiction, as I do, then this, along with its sequel Then, is a must read. Morris Gleitzman has succeeded in writing a story of friendship and desperation, and has managed to recreate the harrowing journey of a Jewish boy with his heart set on reuniting his family.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

i wanna now what happens

Anonymous said...

and in then, felix lives in a hole

Anonymous said...

How WEIRD! I'm an Information Management student undertaking a literature elective and before I found this blog, Boy in Striped Pyjamas was the book that came to mind when reading 'Once.' Yes both books have the Holocaust as a common backdrop and the child protagonist in common but furthermore the whole naivete part between the two boys. The book captures it fairly well but I personally think the movie of 'Boy in Striped Pyjamas' reflects Bruno's innocence even better; in the book he admires the two different armbands worn by the Jews (the Star of David) and the Nazis (swastikas) saying he thinks he'd like to wear an armband as if they're fashion accessories. Then in the movie Bruno is convinced that the numbers on the striped pyjamas outfits are for a game. Felix seems to have similar views such as the Jews being on a holiday tour and wearing armbands to tell who is part of the tour group.

Anonymous said...

i have read this book a couple of times and it is a really great book. The only thing i hated about it was where Chaya dies. eeewwwww! i absolutely love Zelda and Barney. i have an assignment to write Once in Zeldas perspective.She is a really easy chracter to write and i would love to know what happens to Felix and zelda next. Maybe Felix will grow famous with his cake shop, with a dog called Jumble and living with his best friend in the world. Its funny how zelda always says to Felix "don't you know anything??!" hope you take on this keep up the great work.PS You shuld make a movie of this!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

i love the books once and then by morris gleitzman i have read them both, very heart touching and inspirable books 10 out of 10...

Anonymous said...

i read this story in english class and completely fell in love with it! this novel made me so aware of WWII and what the Jewish people had to go through at that point in time. ive only read once, but i cant wait to read then! xx

Anonymous said...

i love ww11 storys

it was so sad to see that zelda dies in then but it is a touching story that is why i rate you morris gleitzmen i cant wait to read now


ps. i really want you to make a movie on these to storys keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

I luv once and i luv then even better. I almost cried when Zelda gets hung and killed in the new book, then. Zelda wasnt a jew, but when the Nazis find out zelda, and the new character called Genia, were protecting jews, Felix got away but Zelda gets killed in front of Felix's eyes

Anonymous said...

omg i cant believe that zelda died!! she was my favrite character! i just finished reading then and actually cried when she got hung. i cant wait to read now! you rock morris gleitzman!!!

Anonymous said...

i cannot believe zelda died at the end
so sad
but you are the best writer morris gleitzman

Anonymous said...

I have read the series (once, then and now) its pretty interesting and really sad...but i like the now the best...
i really hate when zelda dies

Anonymous said...

Felix shows out standing qualities and is always pushing himself through everyday just to find his parents. he's a very strong willed boy. and is always keeping a positive and calm attitude.
Fatastic book !

Anonymous said...

Once is the best book ever!!! I loved it at first sight!

Anonymous said...

you guys just gave away that zelda dies to me!!! :(

Anonymous said...

fuck u

Anonymous said...

love once

my favourite book ever

yet so sad
LOL

Anonymous said...

I've read this book and i would recommend it to any one!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This book was good and need to write a book report on it -
not sure what to write 4 it :s

Anonymous said...

Zelda doesnt even die wat u chatting?

Thesis Proposals said...

WOw !That's Great
This sounds like a fun one to add to the School Library.

Anonymous said...

yes zelda dies

Professional Essay Writing said...

I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

Anonymous said...

I'm read the book and some parts were sad and some parts just got on my nerves. It annoyed me when Zelda kept on saying "don't you know anything?" to Felix!!! But it's such a good book!!! Do you know what award Morris Gleitzman (the author) received for this book???

Anonymous said...

This book is amazing and i am doing a review on it recapping in a puppet show looking forward to finishing i have spent over 7 hrs on it and am doing allot more! i rate it 100 out of 100 great job

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the spoiler warning......NOT!!!

Anonymous said...

i love once and then but i cried when zelda dies. whats now like?

Anonymous said...

BEST BOOK EVER!!!!
But very sad :(

downers grove dentist said...

Sounds strange in this synopsis, but I'd try reading it still.

Anonymous said...

THE BEST BOOK EVER!!!!
SO IS THEN AND NOW CANT WAIT TILL AFTER COMES OUT

Anonymous said...

THE BEST BOOK EVER!! READ ALL THREE CANT WAIT TILL AFTER COMES OUT

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Lucy Wee Hee said...

I have read only Once but I'll might read the other books that are after Once. Pore Zelda, I will still be sad when i read it. :( Its sad when characters die,Ill cry when I read Zelda dies. :( I cryed a little when a girl dies at the end of ONCE :( even when she wasn't in the story long.Its sad how there was a Adolf Hitler who killed people, who didn"t do anything rong.

Anonymous said...

After is now out and im so excited cant wait to read it!! I have to do a comparison book review between The Treasure Box by Margaret Wild and Freya Blackwood, and Once obviously by Morris Gleitzman. They're very simple reads but I love them.

Primrose Everdeen said...

Oh how i wish that the stars would light up the sky

Anonymous said...

I just read this book and it is just amazing im in year 8 and this has been one of my favourite books !! so I think u should read it <3 xoxo