Blog Tour Book Review: ONCE UPON A HILLSIDE by Angela McAllister (Middle Grade Monday)

I received a copy of the book from the publishers as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Title in purple on yellow sky with girl running on hill
Genre: Historical
Age Range: MG
Star Rating:
Series: standalone


‘Once upon a hillside, the hedgerows were loud with sparrows and thick with blossom. Blue butterflies flitted over the anthills, lapwings danced in the big sky. And time passed…’

Time passes: one hillside, seven stories, six thousand years.

Beginning with a Neolithic clan, who leave an arrowhead later found by a Roman boy, then a Roman mosaic found by a medieval herbalist and her daughter, relics of past lives and people are embedded there – left in one story and found in the next. Following in their footsteps are a Civil War runaway, an eighteenth-century shepherd, a Victorian archaeologist and a nineteenth-century botanist – all play a part in the history of the hillside, just as it has played a part in their lives.

Blurb taken from publicity material (not yet on Goodreads.)


ONCE UPON A HILLSIDE is one of the more gorgeous books I’ve read of late. It’s a collection of seven stories with beautiful illustrations that perfect to read with someone as there’s plenty to comment on in the text and pictures.

The premise itself is great – one location, six thousand years from the Stone Age to the modern day. Seven different sets of children interacting with the landscape in different ways, finding hope and healing and family and adventure in the landscape. They drop objects which others discover later, tying them together as they try to understand the world around them.

As well as being delightful snapshots into different historical periods, all with their own stories, it’s also a book about the wonder of nature. It shows off lots of different animals and plants found in the British countryside, with some pages at the back with illustrations of the specific ones named.

The illustrations are so nice. Chiara Fedele is responsible for them, filling the pages with colour. I think they’re watercolours (possibly digital watercolours as they’re much brighter than the physical watercolours I’m used to!) Either way, they’re a great addition to the text.

I loved the way each story starts with a double page spread of the hill. They’re all in different seasons and the built additions change with each one – different houses populating the site. It tied them together and helped you see how things had changed.

Blog tour graphic with list of bloggers taking part on green next to image of book

5 thoughts on “Blog Tour Book Review: ONCE UPON A HILLSIDE by Angela McAllister (Middle Grade Monday)

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