Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle

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Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A quiet picture book for adults, regarding a fallen angel. Some will pore over it, some may sneer.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 128 Date: October 2014
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Children's Books
ISBN: 9781742379722

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Think of fallen angels, and Lucifer and the like come to mind. But they don't have to have fallen with such speed, for such a distance or with such effect. This book concerns one such creature, and while it's not named as an angel as such, and it's identified only by nobody knowing from where it comes yet everyone silently gets to appreciate its presence, it certainly looks like a Western, Christian, angel form. And so the plot of this gentle, poetic picture book looks at the chance of such a bad thing as the fall of an angel being followed by anything more positive.

I have to start my appreciation of this by saying that someone I hugely admire – Shaun Tan – clearly loved it, while someone close to me flicked through it and more or less dismissed it out of hand. I, putting lie to the common thought about Marmite yet again, am somewhere in the middle. I certainly saw the artistry of the design, for make no bones about it this is a picture book, albeit one that seems to me to have a more mature, adult audience in mind. Looking back at this book for reviewing purposes I was surprised that only a couple of images were double page spreads, for everything looks wonderous and widescreen. The images disguise a lot of artistry, for everything is photoshopped and collaged. Therefore cities can be built from any and every type of building from any and every time of Earth's doing so, people of all ages, types and natures can be populating the streets below the flight path of the angel. The pictorial scope the drawn-in angel gets to see in every image is brilliant, even if it's just some artfully arranged clip-art pigeons.

But the turning of those pages to reveal the images breaks up the poetry of the script. It's there as a poem at the end, as if in compensation for this, but sometimes the mind is looking too closely and for too long at the images and forgetting the flow of the words, and often getting no words for two or three spreads. So the disjunction between the two is for me too great at times, and I'm sure that would be worse for the younger reader.

Still, the poem has a plot, and it's a sober, meditative one, with a pleasant after-taste. So even though the marriage of word and image wasn't a great and long-lasting one, the offspring aren't to be sniffed at out of hand. I don't think Shaun, or my partner, are right about this book – I can see it sticking around in my memory longer than in the latter's for a start – but I can also see the better book it might perhaps have been.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Shaun Tan remains for me the go-to-guy for picture books for adults, such as The Arrival and The Viewer.

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Buy Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle at Amazon.com.


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