Thursday, October 17, 2019

Once, I Was Loved written and illustrated by Belinda Landsberry

This is a story about the life of a much loved toy bunny rabbit named Tock. Now, old and worn, Tock is sitting in a box with a bunch of other toys about to be donated to charity and feeling pretty unloved at the moment. But, he tells us that wasn't always so, that once, he was loved.

Tock's journey begins in 1939, just as the Second World War is breaking out and a little girl named Sam receives him for her fifth birthday. Tock is a great comfort to Sam when her dad goes off to war and together they wait for his return, reading his letters and baking him cookies. But when the war is over, Sam decides that a little boy named Flynn needs Tock now more than she does.

Flynn has polio and lives in a hospital in a big iron lung. Tock is a great comfort to Flynn, who eventually recovers and goes home, only to lose Tock in V-Day celebrations when the war ends in Europe.

But then Tock is found by Max, a little boy who loves to listen to Rock'n' Roll and when Max grows up, he give Tock to his little boy named Toby. Toby wants to be an astronaut and watches as astronauts land on the moon with Tock by his side. But one day, Toby leaves Tock behind and he was found by Pip, a flower child.

But Tock and Pip aren't together for very long, when he is found by Ziggy. Ziggy's uncle is taking part in the America's Cup and together he and Tock play pirates, until Tock was carried off by a big dog.

And then Tock finds himself with Elyse, who loves books so much - until the Internet and a cell phone come into her life, and she leaves her toys and books behind. When Elyse grows up, Tock finds himself, old and worn, in a box of other toys to be donated to charity. Will there be a next person to love Tock as all the others had?
Once, I Was Loved is a sweet, right from the heart story, and told with absolute simplicity from Tock's point of view. It's a fact of life that kids grow and move on from their toys, no matter how beloved the toy may be, and Belinda Landsberry has captured these moments with respect to both the child and the toy. And I loved how the well-loved Tock aged from child to child, and how Landsberry shows the changing times that he and each of his children live through.

The beautiful, soft illustrations done in a pastel palette that harmonizes perfectly with the text in both image and emotion, and both will tug at your heartstrings.

Once, I Was Loved is a book for anyone who loves a particular toy or anyone who has ever loved one. It is sweet and sentimental, and may bring a tear to the adult reader's eye, as it did mine, but young readers will certainly enjoy hearing it. It makes a wonderful read aloud, as I did with my young readers, and a pretty bedtime story. It got my kids talking about their favorite plushies and whether they could let go of them the way Sam does at the beginning of the story and I love books that get a good discussion going with my young readers.

Once, I Was Loved is sure to please anyone who has read and loved The Velveteen Rabbit, and anyone who hasn't, for that matter. It is a book destined to become a classic.

This book is recommended for readers age 4+
Thank you, Exisle Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book.

Did you have a well-loved toy as a child? My Kiddo has a bear named Beary, who has traveled the world with her and who now lives with her in China. And I have my old Snoopy, a Christmas gift from my best friend, that I used to take everywhere with me and who now looks a little on the worn side:

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