"Once upon a time" are magic words that cast a spell whether we're young or old. A good tale has a way of holding us captive. To Joel ben Izzy, a professional storyteller for twenty years, stories are not only a way of life but also a way to heal. In this altogether original book, ben Izzy takes us on a journey inside the world of stories and the lessons they teach us through their timeless wisdom.

He begins by telling us the tale of the "The Beggar King," in which King Solomon loses his kingdom and is left to wander the land as a beggar. Then, ben Izzy's own tale unfolds--much like a fable--when he unexpectedly loses his voice, the very thing he needs most. No longer able to tell stories, he loses his livelihood along with his hope, until he meets his old mentor, Lenny. Through fables, folktales, and riddles, the wise but cantankerous Lenny teaches him how to see his fate in terms of a larger story and shows him the gifts that can only come from loss.

Each chapter of ben Izzy's journey begins with a tale he's collected from around the world--from "The Lost Horse" (China) to "The Secret of Happiness" (Turkey). And each one touches on universal themes--from the quest for truth to how to cope with life's disappointments. He challenges us to find the meaning in our own life stories.