#IMWAYR: Bite-Sized Reviews of Greenwild & Once There Was

Posted May 13, 2024 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Reviews / 7 Comments

I’ve joined up with the IT’S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING? kid-lit edition, hosted by Unleashing Readers. This will help me get at least one or two reviews posted each week – I have lots of books I’ve loved lately to share with you!

So, today I’m sharing reviews of two middle-grade fantasies. Hope these bite-sized reviews are enough to feed your fiction addiction!

#IMWAYR: Bite-Sized Reviews of Greenwild & Once There WasGreenwild by Pari Thomson
Illustrator: Elisa Paganelli, Alan Baker
Series: Greenwild #1
on June 6, 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 364
Source: Purchased, The Publisher
My rating:
5 Stars

Open the door to a spellbinding world where the wilderness is alive and a deep magic rises from the earth itself . . .

Eleven-year-old Daisy Thistledown is on the run. Her mother has been keeping big, glittering secrets, and now she has vanished. Daisy knows it’s up to her to find Ma―but someone is hunting her across London. Someone determined to stop her from discovering the truth.

So when Daisy flees to safety through a mysterious hidden doorway, she can barely believe her eyes―she has stepped out of the city and into another world.

This is the Greenwild. Bursting with magic and full of amazing natural wonders, it seems too astonishing to be true. But not only is this land of green magic real, it holds the key to finding Daisy’s mother.
And someone wants to destroy it.

Daisy must band together with a botanical genius, a boy who can talk with animals, and a cat with an attitude to uncover the truth about who she really is. Only then can she channel the power that will change her whole world . . . and save the Greenwild itself.


This is the perfect book for kids who loved Harry Potter and want something else in the same vein (or for parents who aren’t so keen on Rowling and want an alternative). It has all the best elements of the HP series: the secret magical world (but this one is a magical garden world, which is even cooler, if you ask me), a magic school with both friendly and shady teachers, a close-knit friend group who would do anything for each other, and mysteries abound for the friend group to try to untangle. There’s some incredible worldbuilding, and the magical plants range from fun (sunflowers that light up a room) to really cool (plants that shrink you or make you invisible) to dangerous (watch out for those giant Venus fly traps!!). Kids will be enthralled in the world and in Daisy’s quest to save her missing mom, plus the many twists that the story takes along the way! One other exciting element to the book – it has incredible illustrations scattered throughout, and the edition I read had a gorgeous full-color plant guide in the middle!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher (and I purchased a final copy for myself). No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

#IMWAYR: Bite-Sized Reviews of Greenwild & Once There WasOnce There Was by Kiyash Monsef
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on April 4, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Middle Grade
Pages: 416
Source: The Publisher
My rating:
4.5 Stars

A novel about an Iranian American girl who discovers that her father was secretly a veterinarian to mythical creatures—and that she must take up his mantle, despite the many dangers.

Once was, once wasn’t.

So began the stories Marjan’s father told her as a little girl—fables like the story of the girl who sprung a unicorn from a hunter’s snare, or the nomad boy who rescued a baby shirdal. Tales of extraordinary beasts that filled her with curiosity and wonder.

But Marjan’s not a little girl anymore. In the wake of her father’s sudden death, she is trying to hold it all together: her schoolwork, friendships, and keeping her dad’s shoestring veterinary practice from going under. Then, one day, she receives a visitor who reveals something stunning: Marjan’s father was no ordinary veterinarian. The creatures out of the stories he told her were real—and he traveled the world to care for them. And now that he’s gone, she must take his place.

Marjan steps into a secret world hidden in plain sight, where mythical creatures are bought and sold, treasured and trapped. She finds friends she never knew she needed—a charming British boy who grew up with a griffon, a runaway witch seeking magic and home—while trying to hide her double life from her old friends and classmates.

The deeper Marjan gets into treating these animals, the closer she comes to finding who killed her father—and to a shocking truth that will reawaken her sense of wonder and put humans and beasts in the gravest of danger.


Another book about a girl who discovers a magical legacy passed down from her family, but this magic takes a very different form. In this story, Marjan discovers that her father, who was recently killed, was a veterinarian for magical creatures – and that she has inherited his mysterious power to connect to the beasts. My absolute favorite aspect of this book is the lyrical language – it is gorgeously written! Monsef’s writing style is #goals for me. And then there’s the plethora of magical creatures: a gryphon, a unicorn, a kitsune, and many more! Kids will be pulled in by the mystery of what happened to Marjan’s dad and also Marjan’s journey toward learning about her newfound abilities. She also has to avoid working for the villains who want to use the creature’s power for evil – if she can figure out who the villains are!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***

What I’m currently reading:

Right now I’m listening to The First State of Being by Erin Entrada Kelly (I think I saw a review in one of last week’s #IMWAYR posts?). Loving it so far!

That’s it for now! Have you read either of these? What did you think? I wanna know!


7 responses to “#IMWAYR: Bite-Sized Reviews of Greenwild & Once There Was

  1. I love the cover of Greenwild, and it sounds like a fascinating story. Adding to the TBR. I’m also looking forward to the Erin Entrada Kelly novel–so glad to hear you’re enjoying it. Is it good on audio?

  2. I shared The First State of Being last week, Nicole, think it’s awesome. I hope you enjoy it. These two books do sound great, too. I love the books with different kinds of magic, like being a veterinarian for magical creatures, awesome! I placed them both on my list! Thanks for your comment on my post! Any Nielsen book will be a good one, like Iceberg! Thanks for the new recs!

  3. Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf

    Both these books sound fantastic, Nicole! I love how original their fantasy premises are—a world of magical plants, and veterinarians for magical creatures are both things you don’t see in every book. I love how rich the world of Greenwild is and how compelling the writing of Once There Was sounds. Thanks so much for your thoughtful reviews, and have a wonderful week!

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