Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle
Every now and then a picture book comes along that stops you in your tracks. Artistically you understand it but emotionally it perplexes and challenges you. Who is it for and is the author being disingenuous?
Unforgotten got me thinking about its intended audience but I never doubted its integrity. Tohby Riddle has shown his gentle humanity in his impressive backlist of quietly wry stories and picture books, and now he has taken his empathy and artistry to a new level.
Fusing atmospheric photographs with superimposed angels, he has created an eerie and ethereal book. And it’s not just the images that haunt – Riddle’s poetry merges with the dark illustrations to create an elegiac whole.
Unforgotten hints at the immensity and mystery of life and beyond. Riddle’s angels come to earth with gentle healing work to do, but one becomes overwhelmed by the enormity of need and falls to rest, it too requiring care and nurturing.
Reading Unforgotten in a quiet and solitary time accentuated its cathedral-like atmosphere and the images of star-laden skies. However, its underlying truth rests on the importance of even the smallest individual and how we can care for them. For ages 11 and up.
Alexa Dretzke is a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Hawthorne.