Children’s Book | Once Upon the Future: Everyday Adventures that Change the World

Can an academic research project be turned into a children’s story? Yes, it can!

With great enthusiasm and dedication, a team of six SUSPLACE fellows (Anastasia, Alessandro, Angela, Kelli, Lorena and Marta) has been engaged in an experimental co-creation effort to translate their research insights into a Children’s Book.

After two years of work, the result is “Once Upon the Future: Everyday Adventures that Change the World”, an anthology of six stories, each sprinkled with humor and magical realism, and oriented around the theme of hope and action towards a more sustainable future.

While the book is mainly targeted at children 7-11, the stories appeal to the young at heart of all ages. A companion workbook has also been created to support teachers and educators with dedicated activities inspired by the stories.

And what are these stories about?

  • Join Charlie, a big nosed carrot, as he battles the gang of plastic bottles and searches for the great compost heap. [The Magic Jumble by Anastasia Papangelou]
  • Follow Alma and Helio as they discover magical creatures and secret natural realms, while searching for a rare plant that can save their forest from destruction. [Alma in the Woods by Angela Moriggi]​
  • Meet Olivia who never spends time outdoors until a new classmate from a distant land shows her the joy of street play. [The City’s Heartbeat by Lorena Axinte]
  • Gather around the campfire to hear one-eyed Aunt Bloom tell stories of a secret society – the Cosmos Mariners – who battle the Hungry Ghosts destroying our planet. [The Legend of the Cosmos Mariners by Kelli Rose Pearson]
  • Go through a magic portal into the Wood Wide Web with Brunaia – a girl who has fused with a young oak tree to restore the lost equilibrium between humans and forests. [Brunaia by Marta Nieto Romero]
  • Attend a fashion show with young Jamie, who put his reputation on the line to show off his grandmother’s traditional linen. [Fashionista Jamie by Alessandro Vasta]

Artist Rita Reis has illustrated the book, creating a stylish and whimsical look.

Susanne Moser, internationally renowned researcher and consultant on climate change, wrote a beautiful foreword to the book.


  • Check out this beautiful leaflet with more information about the book, and feel free to share it around and spread the word about this project!


  • Read the blog posts that the team has written documenting their co-creation process:

“Once Upon the Future – Foreword by Susanne Moser” (December 2019)
“How to become an everyday superhero”(November 2019)
“Learning the language of story” (May 2018)
“Overcoming the fear of the page: the SUSPLACE Children Book’s learning journey continues.” (October 2018)
“Help us harness the power of storytelling!”(April 2018)



  • Join the Facebook (@UponFuture) and Twitter (@UponFuture) pages of ‘Once Upon the Future’!

  • The team is now looking for publishers, to distribute the book to a wider audience, and translate it into many different languages. If you have any tips or ideas regarding publishing, editors committed to sustainability issues, or otherwise, please get in touch at

From left to right: Marta, Anastasia, Angela, and Alessandro pitching ‘Once Upon the Future’ at the International Children Book Fair in Bologna, April 2019. Lorena and Kelli were missing in presence, but were totally there in spirit!