Once much-loved, the toy rabbit Tock, is now relegated to the donations box with other unwanted toys. Life for him started as a gift for the very young Sam and continued through WW1. Together, they baked biscuits for soldiers at the Front.
Tock was then gifted to Flynn who lay in an iron lung in hospital. His presence assisted in Flynn’s recovery as they shared imaginary adventures together to pass the time.
It was V-Day when Tock fell from Flynn’s hand as they watched the celebrations at the window. Life moved on when Max found him. Tock continued to be loved by person after person, filling their needs; to then be re-homed and loved anew.
Until, Elyse grew up. She moved away and took everything with her. Except me.
This picture book is more than just that. It is a timeline of world events which are juxtaposed with the changes and movement of Tock’s life. Wars and other significant happenings reaffirm the passing of time and Tock’s increased age and condition.
Belinda Landsberry’s almost fragile illustrations are stunning. The continuous use of blue which begins and ends from covers and end pages, reflect the tenderness and heart-warming emotions shared between the toy and each owner.
Themes of ageless love, random acts of kindness, and letting go in various forms, sustain the story from beginning to end.
The analogy between human life and Tock’s life has a very strong presence here. Reflections on how people begin young and grow old, with their value and usefulness, like the toy, often determined by their age, lie like shadows within the text. Their experiences are landmarks in their lives, which at times are set aside and forgotten with the passing of time.
Children will associate emotions tied to their favourite toys with Tock’s story. They may even question what these world events are about and seek to learn more about the history that built their world. There are endless possibilities hidden in this well-constructed and beautifully illustrated book.
Title: Once, I was Loved
Author/ Illustrator: Belinda Landsberry
Publisher: EK Books, $24.99
Publication Date: October 2019
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book