Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 5
- Grade: p to k
- Reading age: 3 to 5
Yu-Rhee, a young Korean girl, wants to know how to tell time using a clock.
Her mother tells her a tale from her childhood based on the traditional Korean practice of timekeeping, where the 12 animals of the zodiac are assigned to 2-hour sections of the 24-hour clock. Told from the point of view of a mountain, the story follows a child as they climb the mountainside in search of a plant to heal their ailing mother. The climb is steep, the path wild and the way difficult. The mountain watches the child struggle and calls on the animals that live on the mountainside to help the child, but as sunlight turns to moonlight, each animal claims to be too busy. Ultimately, Once Upon an Hour is a story about determination and teamwork that shows young readers the importance of helping others.
About the authors
Originally from South Korea, Ann Y.K. Choi immigrated to Canada in 1975. She is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the University of Toronto. Most recently, she completed an MFA in Creative Writing at National University in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety, was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award. The story, set in the 1980s, was inspired by her experiences working in her family-run variety store. A teacher with the York Region District School Board, Ann lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.
Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator currently living in Toronto. She is a graduate of the Visual Arts and Education programs at York University and has participated in artist residences at the Hermitage (St. Petersburg, Russia), Spark Box Studios (Picton, Ontario) and the Toronto Public Library. She has illustrated a number of children's picture books, including Once Upon an Hour, You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas, Is This Panama?, Sukaq and the Raven, You Are Never Alone and A Last Goodbye. Soyeon won the Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award in 2013.
- Commended, BC Books for BC Schools
“The repetitive text here is soothing in cadence...Pleasing colours, and the winsome expressions on the face of the hopeful child make readers sympathetic to the situation.”
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
“A curious premise with captivating illustrations.”
“Illustrations which are inexplicably special…The timeless and universal message of helping others will resonate with listeners of this story whether young or old. This book needs to be part of an elementary school library as well as pre-school and home libraries. By using animals who are active at different times of the day to teach the concept of time, this folktale is especially memorable as well as useful.”
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