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Once a Wizard: A Story About Finding a Way Through Loss
Curtis L. Wiebe
ACHIEVE Publishing / Hardcover / 2021-03-01 / 1988617154
Children's Books / Death & Bereavement
price: $19.99
72 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

This wordless children’s book has beautiful imagery and the potential to create many imaginative storylines. It empowers children to tell their own stories and explore the meaning of their own experiences of loss. The book includes helpful tips, questions, and activities to support parents and caregivers as they help children navigate their way through loss.

Note: While children 5+ will enjoy looking at this book on their own, Once a Wizard was designed as a resource for counselors, helpers, or parents to read with children.

About the Story

While attending Uncle Wizard’s funeral, Ari sees some striking images: a snow-covered statue that resembles Uncle Wizard, a memorial candle with his picture on it, and his body displayed in an open casket. That night, Ari meets Uncle Wizard in a dream. Together, they embark on an adventure through a snowy land, encountering a magic candle, a living stuffed toy, and a goblin, before finally meeting an unstoppable giant. Through this journey, Ari learns to explore their feelings and awakens with the comfort that their memories of Uncle Wizard will live on.

Why a Wordless Book?

From a helping and counseling perspective, having no words allows young readers to help tell the story. Children can fill in details of the story that reflect their own experiences and imagination. Children will often see very different things in the story than adults do. This allows for different kinds of conversations that are useful for supporting children at various stages of grieving.

It is often difficult to know how to discuss grief and loss with children. Reading a story together can be a proactive way of inviting a conversation and letting them know it is okay to feel different emotions, have questions, and talk about them.


Once a Wizard is a delight to share with children! The story is open-ended and leaves room for interpretation to explore the thoughts, ideas, creativity, and emotions of the child you’re reading with. I appreciate how complex themes are gently woven into this intelligent book.”
– Tanya Hoover, Counsellor and Play Therapist

Once a Wizard is a unique and helpful resource for exploring loss with children. I will use this book with my own kids as well as the young people I see in my work as a school counsellor.”
– Phoebe Burns Proven, School Guidance Counsellor, St. John’s High School

“One of the striking features of Once a Wizard is that there are no limits to where you can take the story. Looking at the book with my children, so often I found we were connecting on common ground and just as quickly heading off on different paths of imagination. This became a natural springboard for encouraging exploration into each other’s perspectives.“
– Jamie Falk, father of two (ages 7 and 10)

“The artwork of Once a Wizard is amazing – it provides a sense of fluidity that relates to the different emotions that surface around grief. There are countless creative ways this book can be used by counsellors, helpers, and parents to initiate conversations and reflection with children about grief and loss.”
– Kristine Pau, Clinician, Family Therapy Services, New Directions

“Regardless of whether you are a parent or a professional working with children, loss is a complex journey. Once a Wizard’s imaginative and wordless illustrations are an inspiring way to explore grief in a safe and natural way. This book will be a valuable and transformative resource in my work with children.”
– Kathi von Gunten Wiebe, School Social Worker, Winnipeg School Division

About the Author:

Curtis L. Weibe is a sculptor, animator, award-winning filmmaker, costume designer, puppeteer, and musician, but his first love has always been drawing. He has worked with children in a variety of settings and currently teaches art to middle-years students at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with his wife and son. This is his first published book.

Vicki Enns, Clinical Consultant, worked closely with Curtis to create a book that would be both interesting for children and helpful for them to explore the topic of grief. She is the Clinical Director of the Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute (CTRI) and a registered Marriage and Family Therapist. She is the editor and co-author of the book Counselling Insights and the author and editor of many of CTRI’s training materials

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