Once Upon A Company: A True Story

I was introduced to this book by my young friend and fellow bibliophile Kaitlyn, who kindly wrote this review of it for us.

“If someone asked me to find a children’s book on how to start a business, I probably wouldn’t think such a thing existed, and if I did, I wouldn’t think to look for a picture book, but that is precisely what Once Upon a Company is.

It’s a true story about the author’s three young children who took their holiday break boredom, and did something productive, fun, and beautiful.  The book is written from the point of view of the author’s son, Joel.  When he was seven he and his two sisters started a company making wreaths and selling them to neighbors, saving the money for college.  They found that they liked running a business, so the next summer they opened a lemonade stand at an art fair.

Joel and his sisters ran into various difficulties, but through some ingenious problem-solving, perseverance, and elbow grease they managed to succeed in starting several successful small businesses.

One great thing about this book is it’s a disguised trove of business terms and phrases. Each one is written in capitol letters, and defined in a glossary in the back of the book.  Which makes this book not just a fun story, but very educational too.

Another aspect of the story that I really love is how their family works. The kids own the business together, their mom and dad teach and pitch in, the grandparents do the same. Their aunts and uncles make connections for them and suggest next steps. Working at the lemonade stand looks so fun they start “acquiring” new employees. Then they opened up a wreath shop in town, and little by little, the whole community begins to get involved in the little business.  It’s a beautiful picture of what can happen when people are excited about what they do.

Though Once Upon a Company glorifies college somewhat – The College Fund Wreath Company is their company’s name -it has a refreshing attitude toward education. The kids want to learn, and they want to work.  One big message in the book is, “Work can be fun!”


This is an excellent book, and one I’d recommend for all ages; it’s a heartwarming story, educational, and inspiring.  Sadly, it’s out of print, but there are used copies available.