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Once Upon A Test_ Three Light Tales of Love



Sunny said, "Princess Stephanie and I want to get married."

"Fine," his mother said. "As soon as she passes the test."

"Test?" he said. "What test?"

"She has to perform three deeds."

"Yes?" the Princess asked somewhat warily.

"You have to kill the giant that lives in the valley and the dragon that lives on the mountain. And then... let's see... the third thing is you have to answer three questions."

"That's ridiculous!" Stephanie cried. "I never heard of a princess having to win the hand of a prince. If there's a test, it's usually the other way around."

"We have the rule," the Queen purred, "to make sure our prince marries someone worthy of him."

"Wait a minute," Sunny said. "I don't remember hearing this rule last year when you wanted me to marry the Prime Minister's daughter."

"The rule only applies to foreign-born princesses." The Queen smiled. "Good day."

Once Upon A Test:

Three Light Tales of Love

Original cover art by Diane Dawson Hearn

Ages: 12 and up

Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company

Status: This book is out of print and is not available,

even as an e-book. It can be found–if at all–in libraries

or used book stores.

Book Description:

Three humorous fairy tales in which the princesses are not always beautiful and demure and the princes are not always brave and handsome.


Where do you GET those ideas?


I love fairy tales. One of the regular features in fairy tales is the case where a king proclaims: "Whosoever shall rid this kingdom of this dragon..." (or some other monster) or "Whosoever shall complete this quest shall be granted half my kingdom and the hand of my daughter in marriage."


Well, that's all very nice for the king, but what if the princess doesn't like the fellow who wins her? And why is it never a queen who announces a contest to win the hand of her son? And, so, I decided to write my own fairy tales.

I was so charmed by Diane's illustration work for this book that I used this castle in the header of my website for many years.

More Stuff


See that castle at the top of the page?

That was drawn by Diane Dawson Hearn, for the back cover of Once Upon a Test, and is used here with her kind permission.

This is the picture I had in my mind when, in User Unfriendly, Arvin and his friends find themselves in Sannita in the nursery of the governor's mansion and go through the tapestry picture of a castle.

The first story in Once Upon a Test, "For Love of Sunny," has been reprinted several times, and it gets changed each time.

The people at Cricket liked the story, but didn't like the description of the prime minister's daughter. In the Once Upon a Test version, when Stephanie asks about the prime minister's daughter, Sunny answers, "She's a big, hairy girl who likes to go to bars and pick fights with sailors." I meant that to be funny; my editor at Whitman thought it was funny. The people at Cricket asked for the line to be changed to: "She's nice enough. But I'll never love her as much as I love you."

OK, well... So I let them have their way.

Another time the story was reprinted was in the collection, Girls to the Rescue, edited by Bruce Lansky. Unfortunately, a problem crept into the story when Bruce asked me if I would be willing to make a few changes so that the story didn't take place in a made-up kingdom, but in a real country. He said that the story struck him as being Scandinavian--would I be willing to change the name of the characters? ("Sunny" could stay for the prince since it's a nickname, but his given name had to change.)

My friends, of course, made fun of me. (What are friends for?) They started calling the story "For Love of Sven" and "For Love of Midnight Sunny." That was OK. I got into the Scandinavian swing of things. I even added a reference to reindeer.

The "unfortunately" part comes when someone at Girls to the Rescue decided the story wasn't Scandinavian after all--it was Irish. Someone went ahead and changed the names from Scandinavian to Irish.

But nobody noticed the reference to the reindeer--even when the story was reprinted yet again in Storyworks.

I like to tell people Ireland is such a beautiful country that it gets a lot of reindeer tourists.

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