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  • Published: 29 August 2023
  • ISBN: 9781776958092
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $22.00

Once Upon a Wickedness

An exciting adventure novel for contemporary kids with a fairytale setting, a daring hero and message that you’re never too young and powerless to stand up to tyrants!

What happens when a group of school children, led by the resourceful ten-year-old Dance Violet, dare to ask those in power some hard questions? Find out in this magical novel by the bestselling Fleur Beale, stunningly illustrated by Lily Uivel.
Ten-year-old orphan Dance Violet might have had a short and troubled history, but it hasn’t dampened her warrior spirit – not in the slightest. And that’s a good thing, because something is rotten in her village, and no one else has the courage to try to put things right.
People have been disappearing overnight and the village children are left to fend for themselves under the tyrannical schoolteachers Murk and Misselthwaite. There are whispers that the trouble started ten years ago when a beautiful but wicked woman – ‘the golden-haired hellion’ – appeared at a wedding.
Dance has some powerful gifts that she’s only just beginning to discover, and while she knows it’s dangerous to ask questions, she’s determined to find this golden-haired hellion – even if it means getting disappeared.
When Dance finds her, the golden-haired hellion had better look out.

Read all Fleur Beale's bestselling novels!

  • Published: 29 August 2023
  • ISBN: 9781776958092
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 208
  • RRP: $22.00

About the author

Fleur Beale

Fleur Beale is the author of many award-winning books for children and young adults — she has published more than 40 books in New Zealand, as well as in the United States and England. A former high school teacher, Fleur was inspired to write her acclaimed novel I Am Not Esther when one of her students was beaten and expelled from his family for going against their religious beliefs. Fleur is a leading advocate for New Zealand authors, and home-grown literature for children and young adults.

Also by Fleur Beale

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Praise for Once Upon a Wickedness

There are some truly delightful small-over-big victories that will capture your heart (reminiscent of Roald Dahl's Matilda)...This novel, for slightly younger readers than Beale's more usual young adult audience, will make a great read-aloud and become a favourite with many.

Rosemary Tisdall, Magpies

[B]eautifully crafted...with a magical fairytale setting, strong heroine and powerful messages. Beale is bound to captivate another generation of fans with this latest offering.

Rebekah Lyell, NZ Booklovers

[A]n exciting adventure novel about orphan Dance Violet, with rich language, a magical setting and powerful messages about doing hard things, friendship and love. Illustrator Lily Uivel adds to the appeal for younger readers, with her whimsical artwork throughout.

NZ Booklovers

Awards & recognition

Storylines Notable Book Award

Awarded  •  2023  •  Storylines Notable Junior Fiction

NZ Booklovers Award

Shortlisted  •  2024  •  NZ Booklovers Award for Best Junior FictionBook

Discover more

2023 Storylines Notable Books List

The highest quality books in five genres published between August 2022 and November 2023.