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Once Upon A Time
Once Upon a Time - A Story Collection.png
Author Shannon Hale
Publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN 9780316258210
Pages 272
Previous A Wonderlandiful World
Next None

Once Upon a Time is the last book in the Ever After High series by the author Shannon Hale. It brings together 12 short stories about 11 characters and one story from the book The Storybook of Legends. Another series is to be released by Suzanne Selfors.


A new chapter is about to begin at Ever After High, and all the students are preparing to start their Legacy Year. In just a few weeks it will be Legacy Day when they will sign the Storybook of Legends and commit to live out their fairy-tale destiny, repeating the famous stories of their parents.

Once Upon a Time - A Story Collection by Shannon Hale, with exclusive introductions to all your favorite characters. Find out what their lives are like at home! The volume brings together twelve tales of the Ever After High characters with five new stories. We discover what the twins Dexter and Darling Charming, Cedar Wood, Lizzie Hearts and Kitty Cheshire did just before the beginning of the school year. We discover their secrets, their dreams and their motivation.

This compilation also includes the stories that have previously been published separately, those of Apple White, Raven Queen, Madeline Hatter, Briar Beauty, Ashlynn Ella, Hunter Huntsman and The Tale of Two Sisters".

(edited and some info taken from

Cedar Wood's Story

It's the last day of summer and Cedar Wood prepares for a new school year. She and her father, Pinocchio, along with her grandfather Gepetto have breakfast. Later in the town, Cedar buys and packs things for the new school year, however she comes across a few boys who mock her and egg her onto telling a lie. After spilling several pieces of information out to them which she herself objects to, Cedar takes off before telling her personal fears to the boys.

Cedar visits a nearby beach and finds the Blue-Haired Fairy, the first person who "blessed" her with a truth spell in the first place. Wanting to be a real girl, Cedar longs for her destiny to be fulfilled, but the Blue-Haired Fairy simply tells Cedar her time will come eventually. Their conversation is stopped as one of the boys Cedar met earlier cries for her help, because his friend gets tangled in kelp, who happens to misread the sign of no swimming. Cedar dives in and rescues him, which he is both surprised and grateful for, sternly telling him to appreciate the life he's already been blessed with as a real boy.

Dexter Charming's Story

Dexter Charming and Darling Charming, along with the rest of the family are prompted to go on a Charming Family Ball. Dexter overhears his parents discussing (and hoping) on his fate as the possible next Beast as Rosabella's prince, but he wishes to be with Raven instead. As they arrive, Dexter is greeted by Grandpa Auspicious and Grandma Alluring, along with many other cousins who are eager to play games with one another. At that time, however, one of his cousins, Charity, catches the eye of Dexter as he spots strange indications such as glowing yellow eyes and strange, bare brown dirty footprints.

Dragged into a closet suddenly by a strange figure, Dexter and it have a brawl and knocks Dexter unconscious. Discovering that it is a changeling, as in a fake Charity by the strange symptoms, Dexter lies in a strange cell, correspondingly next to Charity's, who is cooped up in her book and isn't really concerned about anything else currently. Completely bored, Dexter waits around to be rescued, but in that spare time, Charity suggests for Dexter to knit using one of their grandmother's tools. Using the crochet hook, Dexter picks at the lock several times and sets himself free.

Finding Dexter at last, Daring announces that to the family who rejoice, not because it's Dexter, but because he is holding the special Aunt Arachne hook. Dexter sends a message to Darling that Charity is still down there as she goes down to fetch her. Knowing that she's not a damsel in distress, Dexter hopes himself not to be underestimated.

Darling Charming's Story

Darling Charming lies on her balcony but is dangerously spotted by bystanders, for she prepares to attend the Charming Family Ball. At the end of their ride, Darling does something her mother considers unladylike, to her dismay. Later, Darling is horded by several younger girl cousins and Grandma Alluring, who proposes in a few games with the girls. Kick-starting the games, Alluring declares a Damsel-in-Distressing hide and seek version. Darling is sent to hide in the metal box on the east roof. As it is an objective of the game, Darling locks herself tight in the metal box and stares up at the sky full of stars instead. From the corner of her eye, Darling believes that she saw a cat scampering across the roof by her. Continuing down her gaze, she finds the swimming pool below her and spots Auspicious fall into the pool. Taking a closer look, Darling finds the hinges of the metal box gently push open, despite her sure that it was locked a bit ago. Ignoring that, Darling slides off the roof and onto the gutter, swinging down and landing back onto her feet soon after. Finding the pool, Darling comes across a sword sitting at the bottom of the pool, along with a thrashing eel. With only her alone, Darling catches it above water as it flails around. Trying to fetch the sword for a second attempt at the bottom without distractions, she does so, however the eel breaks free from its net straight before she gets out of the water. Darling hides the sword and tiptoes away.

Stating to everyone that cousin Good-Enough was the initial discoverer of the Soaring Sword instead of her. Good news of Dexter finding the Crochet Hook of Arachne also surfaces. As Dexter is being cheered on, he signals Darling to find Charity and rescue her from her cell, and Darling does so. Charity promises not to tell anyone of Dexter's defeat of the changeling, Darling's brave rescue of her and her success in finding the Sword.

Lizzie Hearts' Story

At the library, Lizzie Hearts reads an unsatisfactory entry of a Wonderland book. Meanwhile, Kitty Cheshire too is stuck at the library. Just because of the closure of Wonderland and it is chapter break, they have no residence besides at Ever After High. Not wanting to be disturbed any further, Lizzie declares a croquet match, but Kitty doesn't have the spirit. Angered, Lizzie stomps off out on the school premises. A sweeper called Green rakes a few leaves as Lizzie sets up the croquet court herself. After finishing her turn, Lizzie asks Green to join her match, but he passes on her offer.

Later on, Lizzie finds the White Queen sitting on a bench. Taking the seat next to her (which she rarely does), the White Queen is excitable for Lizzie when she is to sign the book, along with the other Wonderlandians, but Lizzie is clouded with doubt because of how the portal of Wonderland is closed and wonders when she'll be able to see it again. As the White Queen departs, Lizzie builds a small castle out of cards for Shuffle. Remembering how the original Card Castle went aflame right in front of her eyes, she smells fumes from downhill nearby Wonderland Well. Finding Green setting the leaves alight, she promptly stops him and dumps a pail of water onto the leaves, finding seven hedgehogs underneath the burnt leaves. Wanting them to find a home, a book conveniently drops on Lizzie's foot, coincidentally one very subject to how to tend to a Grove, which Lizzie notices that the hedgehogs take a liking to the Grove's specific nature. Lizzie leads them deep into a Grove which she will occasionally tend to, hoping that they will reside peacefully there as will she in Wonderland, someday.

Kitty Cheshire's Story

At the boring library at school during the final day of summer, Kitty Cheshire sits bored and passes on another endless croquet round with Lizzie Hearts, for today has been a both exhausting and boring day. Disappearing to In-Between (another dimension where Kitty goes once she's invisible), she gains super speed and phases through a shadow of a door. Soon approaching [of Book End (location)|Book End], Kitty finds an orderly girl named Clara Lear and lies to Clara that she's a Book End helper. Kitty directs her to the Tea Shoppe where it is completely "normal". Trusting her advice, Clara leaves. Considering her work finished here, Kitty departs to the wishing well to cause more mischief, appearing by the Sleeping Beauty Palace. Disappearing back into In-Between, she finds Briar asleep in her room as she was packing a while ago, but nonetheless, Kitty rummages around her room of many things and finds jewelry and decides to relocate them around the Palace somewhere, disappearing to the White Castle. As she finds Apple White parading out, she criticizes her blonde hair which sets Apple off. Disappearing in and out of In-Between, Kitty simultaneously appears and disappears all to trash the Castle. Going to Apple's room, Kitty stops dead in her tracks as she finds a sorrowful Snow White and doesn't wish to investigate any further.

Next, Kitty appears in the Charming Family Ballroom, finding a changeling. Somehow sensing her presence, Kitty soon leaves, not wanting to get caught by the creature. Using her disappearing powers, she swim-runs to the roof of the castle and dives from roof to roof. On one roof, however, she finds Darling Charming stuck in a metal box. Only using her hand to reappear in Real, Kitty unlatches the box open and runs away. Another wishing well, Kitty finds Cedar Wood sadly smelling flowers as three boys ask her rude questions. Wanting to retaliate for being rude, Kitty tricks them to go for a swim, but is totally unaware of the kelp forest, only thinking that swimming would give them a stomach ache. Disappearing to another wishing well, she finds Ashlynn Ella and Hunter Huntsman, but disappears to another world again at the scent of Hunter.

In another world however, she is able to find Raven Queen, playing a solemn song which warms her. Not wanting to cause any trouble than what might already happen on Legacy Year, Kitty leaves. Vanishing back to Ever After High, Kitty finds Lizzie building a mini home for hedgehogs. Back to the library, Kitty drops a good book about garden tending on Lizzie's foot. Reappearing in another corner, Kitty claims she's been catnapping the entire day.

The Tale of Two Sisters

There were once two sisters. One was beautiful, but vain and mean spirited. The other was ugly, but kind. She was surrounded by butterflies, while her sister was surrounded by flies and wasps. No matter what she did, the insects never left. One day, they were walking by the river when the beautiful one tried to drown her sister. The result was killing the butterflies, whose ghosts then drowned the beautiful sister.

Apple White's Story

Apple White is packing for a new year at Ever After High. She is aided by servants, dwarfs, and woodland creatures, who manage to make the whole process run smoothly enough that Apple can spend time on the social aspect of leaving. She and Briar text a little, after which Apple goes to the balcony to receive support from her faithful subjects in regards to Legacy Day as well as leave them a few kind words to remember her by for the school year to come.

Soon enough, Apple finds herself in the courtyard saying goodbye to her parents, the dwarfs, and the staff. Everyone wishes her well, reminding her of the importance of Legacy Day, and Apple happily takes the encouragement, thinking that everyone must have noticed how hard she's already worked for her destiny. However, her departure ends on a sour note when she overhears some of the staff tying her destiny to nothing deeper than her beauty. She vows she'll prove she is worth more than just her appearance.

Raven Queen's Story

Raven Queen is just done with packing for another year at Ever After High. She makes her way packing for the next year while blasting a Tailor Quick song from her MirrorPod. She makes her way to the dining room for her last meal at home that summer, all the while worrying about this year's significance. With Legacy Day just around the corner, so is the destiny she does not want to follow. Ever since she was a little girl, Raven hated how her mother and the staff pushed her towards an evil self she never could identify with. Nowadays, the Evil Queen is in mirror prison and most personnel has left the castle, but still Raven feels the pressure.

Arriving in the dining room, she is greeted by the Good King, Cook, and the latter's twin sons. Dinner proceeds peacefully enough, but once it's over, Raven faces the daunting task of saying goodbye to her mother before she leaves. Her father offers to accompany her, but she declines. Raven makes her way to her mother's room and summons her image through the mirror. The Evil Queen is elated to see her again and asks for news and Raven's feelings on signing the Storybook of Legends soon. Raven answers as positively as she can, much to her mother's delight. Towards the end of the conversation, the Evil Queen tries to tricks Raven into freeing her, but Raven doesn't bite. The Evil Queen is largely indifferent to it, stating that her daughter's progress on the path of villainy is what truly matters.

Briar Beauty's Story

Briar is putting together outfits to look her best, but is not fully satisfied. She contacts Apple and Blondie on MirrorChat for their input, which brings Briar the realization she forget to add jewelry. Quickly opening her jewelry trunk, Briar is shocked to find it empty. Needing to warn her parents of the thief in the castle, Briar utilizes her shortcut downstairs: through the window, below which a hay wagon is always waiting. Only, this time it isn't. Luckily for Briar, her father is there to catch her. He prepares to berate her for her reckless action, but she tells him of her missing jewelry, prompting him to run off to be "the hero".

Briar continues searching for her mother, noting that her eight brothers have made a mess of the castle in getting materials for a game of theirs. She eventually finds her mother asleep in her breakfast - random attacks on insta-sleep being a leftover from the curse placed on Sleeping Beauty. Briar inherited these attacks and seeing her mother asleep, she too is pulled into a slumber. Though principally inconvenient, being asleep greatly increases her hearing, so she hears her brothers talking about a treasure.

When she awakes, she looks for them in the garden. She finds her brothers pretending to be Peter Pan and various pirates, their surroundings littered with things they took from the castle - one of which is the hay wagon. Annoyed at their selfishness, Briar confronts her brothers. They quickly apologize and Briar is unable to stay angry. Claiming the role of Captain Hook for herself, she orders her crew to dig up the treasure, after which they'll invade the kitchen.

Madeline Hatter's Story

Down in the Enchanted Forest during sunrise, Madeline Hatter is collecting ingredients for teas to serve at the Mad Hatter's Tea Shoppe. Once done, she hurries back to the Village of Book End to get the ingredients to her father's eating establishment. As it is the last day of summer, the village is brimming with new students getting prepared for their first day at Ever After High. It makes Madeline recall her own first day at Ever After High, in particular the uncertainty she felt before making her first friends in Raven Queen and Cedar Wood.

As with the rest of the Village of Book End, the Tea Shoppe is crowded when Madeline arrives. Her father greets her, happy to see both her and the ingredients. As Madeline prepares to follow him to the kitchen, she is stopped by a customer complaining she hasn't been given a seat yet. The customer introduces herself as Clara Lear and after some miscommunication, she angrily gets a seat for herself and condescendingly orders regular tea. Madeline is taken aback by Clara's attitude and goes to the kitchen to get the order. Since the Tea Shoppe doesn't usually serve regular tea, Maddie has to go through a lot of trouble to acquire a bag of it, and in the process realizes that Clara's attitude stems from her lack of friends and fear to open up to anyone. Deciding that regular tea is not what Clara needs, Maddie gets her charm blossom tea, which changes flavor depending on the mood voiced by the person closest to it.

Madeline uses the tea as a conversation starter and goes on to tell Clara that she was new herself only a year ago, but that everything turned out alright. Clara lets her guard down and confides her insecurities, but Maddie is spared a complicated conversation when another customer as uncertain and new as Clara arrives. Madeline invites her over to the table, and the guaranteed presence of another first year student snaps Clara out of her funk. She orders scones and fairyberry jam to go with the tea, which Madeline is eager to get. Upon arrival in the kitchen, her father has her taste a new, future-predicting brew and Madeline takes a sip. According to the tea, change is coming this school year. Madeline is only too eager for it all to begin.

Ashlynn Ella's Story

When she's at home, Ashlynn Ella starts every day with chores, just like her mother, Cinderella, did. After serving breakfast to her ungrateful Auntie Step, she muses that it is good preparation for her destiny, a future which involves serving mean stepsisters of her own. Unfortunately, it reminds her about her mother's predestined early death, something she doesn't want to think about.

She finishes her chores and starts packing for school, thinking about the upcoming year. It's been tough for Ashlynn, not having any friends who shared her interest in the outdoors. Fortunately, she has made friends with many woodland animals. Unfortunately, because she can actually communicate with them, their drama sometimes spills over into her life. Though she was leaving for school the next day, Ashlynn was not one to decline helping someone in need. She stopped packing and went outside to check on a sad bunny, but soon other creatures needed her help.

Just when Ashlynn was headed home, one mother bird cries out because her nest had fallen and the chicks were on the ground. Ashlynn immediately works to fix the broken nest. Suddenly, all the animals around her begin talking about a boy coming through the woods. She couldn't hear him, and thought it best not to look since he didn't want to be seen. Then the animals announced that he had hung up a birdhouse, and Ashlynn's curiosity got the better of her; but when she turned around, he was gone. She rushed home after realizing it was nightfall already, but to her surprise, the animals she had helped were all in her room, and her trunk was packed. She thanked them, and spent the night imagining the lumberjack in the woods who was full of humble, good intentions. It made her heart pound, even though she always knew she'd have to marry some prince some day. As unlikely as it sounded, she hoped he would be a nature-loving prince; someone with a good heart who would take her into the forest and help animals with her.

Hunter Huntsman Story

On the last day before leaving for Ever After High, it is business as usual at the Huntsman cabin: breakfast, followed by chores. Hunter's family is not big on conversation, which is just as well since Hunter is trying to hide his vegetarian stance from his parents. After cleaning up, Hunter accompanies his father to check their traps, much to his dismay. Hunter contemplates the destiny that awaits him. Following the lessons he's learned from his father is second nature to him, but he is having a hard time reconciling hunting with his animal-loving conscience.

As he and his father reach trap after empty trap, Hunter becomes more anxious. The Huntsman detects animal fur in each trap, yet somehow each animal has gotten free. Hunter had been breaking them out in secret, but he made up a weak story about how the animals may have escaped on their own. Just then, they hear a cry for help and run towards it. They come across a farmer with a twisted ankle who claims he saw a wolf. Hunter decides to scout while his father helps the injured man home. He spends the whole day searching but does not find any wolf tracks.

As he is headed home, Hunter hears a bird call out in distress. He heads towards it, but sees a maiden tending to the bird's nest before he gets there. Inspired by her kindness, Hunter builds a bird house out of makeshift natural items and quietly hangs it near the girl, leaving before she can spot him. He wants to introduce himself to her, but he remembers that it is Legacy Year and she is not part of his destiny. The only comfort for the dutiful hero is to daydream.

Other books in this series