Once (Morris Gleitzman novel)

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AuthorMorris Gleitzman
Publication date
Followed byThen (2009), Now (2010), After (2012), Soon (2015) (Now was published prior to After, but its events are chronologically later. 

Once is a 2005 children's novel by Australian author Morris Gleitzman. It is about a Jewish boy named Felix who lived in Poland and is on a quest to find his book-keeper parents after he sees Nazis burning the books from a Catholic orphanage in which had stayed at for 3 years and 8 months. He finds a girl, who is unconscious, called Zelda in a burning house with her dead parents—he takes her with him and protects her from confronting her parents' death by telling her stories. Although Once is a work of fiction, Gleitzman was inspired by the story of Janusz Korczak, the events of World War II, and Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe.

Once was translated into German (Einmal) and was nominated for the 2010 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis; it won the 2011 Katholischer Kinder- und Jugendbuchpreis [de].

The sequels to the book are [1]Then (2009), [2]Now (2010), [3]After (2012), [4]Soon (2015) and [5]Maybe (2017). In chronological order of Felix's life, the books are Once, Then, After, Soon, Maybe and Now.[6] Gleitzman has announced that the title of the final book in the series will be Always.[7]


Although Once is a work of fiction, Gleitzman was inspired by the story of Janusz Korczak, the events of World War II, and Hitler's attempt to exterminate the Jewish population of Europe. As research for the novel, Gleitzman read several books about and by young people in the Holocaust, including The King of Children by Betty Jean Lifton (a biography of Janusz Korczak), Salvaged Pages: Young Writers' Diaries of The Holocaust, edited by Alexander Zapruder, The Hidden Children by Jane Marks, Words to Outlive Us: Eyewitness Accounts From the Warsaw Ghetto, edited by Michał Grynberg, Witness: Voices From The Holocaust, edited by Joshua M. Greene and Shiva Kumar, A Childhood by Jona Oberski, Maus by Art Spiegelman, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Born Guilty by Peter Sichrovsky, The Hidden Children by Howard Greenfeld, Children of the Ghetto by Sheva Glas-Wiener, Konin: A Quest by Theo Richmond, The Boys by Martin Gilbert, Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood During The Holocaust, edited by Anita Brostoff with Sheila Chamovitz, Yiddishland by Gerard Silvain and Henri Minczeles, Children With a Star by Debórah Dwork, and Ghetto Diary by Janusz Korczak.[8]


The Horn Book Guide described Once as "this is the rare Holocaust book for young readers that doesn't alleviate its dark themes with a comforting ending".[9]

The School Library Journal recommends this book as a 'read aloud' book, and notes how it contrasts "how children would like to imagine their world with the tragic way that life sometimes unfolds."[10]

Kirkus Reviews describes Felix's misconceptions of the world "heartbreaking", and described his story as being "packed with sadness", with a tinge of hope offered by the character inspired by Janusz Korczak.[11]


  1. ^ "Morris Gleitzman - Then". www.morrisgleitzman.com. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  2. ^ "Morris Gleitzman - Now". www.morrisgleitzman.com. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  3. ^ "Morris Gleitzman - After". www.morrisgleitzman.com. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  4. ^ "Morris Gleitzman - Soon". www.morrisgleitzman.com. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  5. ^ "Morris Gleitzman - Maybe". www.morrisgleitzman.com. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  6. ^ After, morrisgleitzman.com
  7. ^ Home page, Morris Gleitzmnan
  8. ^ "Morris Gleitzman – Once". 2016-07-21. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  9. ^ Gross, Claire E (2010-09-22), "Gleitzman, Morris: Once(Young adult review)(Brief article)(Book review)", The Horn Book Guide, 21 (2): 339(1), ISSN 1044-405X
  10. ^ Hastings, Jeffrey (2010-04-01), "Gleitzman, Morris. Once(Young adult review)(Brief article)(Book review)", School Library Journal, 56 (4): 156(1), ISSN 0362-8930
  11. ^ "Gleitzman, Morris: Once (Young adult review) (Brief article) (Book review)", Kirkus Reviews, 2010-03-15, ISSN 1948-7428

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