Once a Wizard

A Story About Finding a Way Through Loss


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.

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Author and Illustrator: Curtis L. Wiebe

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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.

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.

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Author and Illustrator: Curtis L. Wiebe

Curtis 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.

Clinical Consultant: Vicki Enns

Photo of Vicki Enns Trainer at Crisis and Trauma Resource InstituteVicki 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 a contributing author of CTRI’s Counselling Insights and Counselling in Relationships books, and is the author and editor of many of CTRI’s training materials.

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Book Reviews

Here's what people have to say about our book

“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
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