Once Upon a Tim (Once Upon a Tim #1)

by Stuart Gibbs (Author) Stacy Curtis (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
Series: Once Upon a Tim

Join New York Times bestselling author Stuart Gibbs in this first book in a hilarious, highly illustrated new middle grade series about a peasant boy who wants to be a knight, perfect for fans of Max & the Midknights.

Tim is just a peasant, but he dreams big. He wants more out of life than to grow up to be a woodsman like his father. Unfortunately, the only route to success in the kingdom of Wyld is to be born a prince. Still, Tim is determined. He is brave and clever and always tries to do the right thing--even though he rarely gets the credit for it. Then news spreads that Princess Grace of the neighboring kingdom has been abducted by the evil Stinx and Prince Ruprecht needs a legion of knights to join him on his quest to rescue her. Tim finally has the lucky break he's been waiting for, the opportunity to change his station in life. And even though he doesn't know how to ride a horse or wield anything more deadly than a water bucket, he's going to do whatever it takes to make sure his dream becomes a reality.

Publishers Weekly

Diverting from anything seen at the Round Table, Gibbs (the Spy School series) brings his lighthearted touch to medieval times in this energetic series starter. When a nefarious monster absconds with Princess Grace of a neighboring kingdom, cowardly Prince Ruprecht seeks knights to join him on his rescue. Since, according to self-described peasant Tim, "the worst part of being a peasant isn't really what we don't have. It's what we can't do," he and his best friend Belinda sign up for tryouts, hoping to change their fates. In doing so, they enter into a dastardly plan concocted by Ruprecht and court advisor Nerlim, who aren't actually seeking knights (the kingdom can't afford them following a bad investment) but "people who they could fool into thinking that they were knights." A comic quest follows, with scares and laughs abundantly on offer. Sketch-style b&w art by Curtis (Penguin and Moose Brave the Night) visualizes the paper white-skinned cast's hijinks. Tim's chatty, entertaining narration, which includes ample potty humor and the occasional vocabulary "IQ booster," also touches on lessons about stereotypes and unconscious bias throughout the chatty, madcap adventure. Ages 7-10. (Mar.)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.


Budding heroes defeat class and gender expectations as well as the occasional monster in this wry outing. (Fantasy. 8-12).

Review quotes

Stuart Gibbs
Stuart Gibbs is the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlie Thorne series, FunJungle series, Moon Base Alpha series, and Spy School series. He has written screenplays, worked on a whole bunch of animated films, developed TV shows, been a newspaper columnist, and researched capybaras (the world's largest rodents). Stuart lives with his family in Los Angeles. You can learn more about what he's up to at StuartGibbs.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
March 20, 2022
Once Upon a Tim

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