Books by Tohby Riddle

MILO by Tohby Riddle
Kirkus Star
written and illustrated by Tohby Riddle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2017

"This subtle and meaningful fable makes for thought-provoking literature for young readers. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A dog and his house take a fantastical trip. Read full book review >
THE WORD SNOOP by Ursula Dubosarsky
Released: July 1, 2009

Fascinating facts about words and the English language abound in this giddy Australian import (The Word Spy, 2008), narrated by the exuberant "Word Snoop," who discloses her discoveries to her "dear readers" in a chatty, conspiratorial style. Those who haven't pondered how the world's first alphabet developed (or even the word "alphabet" itself) will be wowed, and trivia buffs will adore learning that quotation marks are nicknamed "goose feet" in Iceland and what the letters in the acronym "laser" stands for. Anagrams, palindromes and oxymorons are demystified, as are mondegreens, Yogiisms and Tom Swifties. Solid-red, chapter-demarcating pages featuring the silhouette of a donkey-riding, telescope-wielding child contribute to the book's distinctly old-fashioned design and sensibility, but the Snoop's eclectic cultural references range from Albert Camus to Lauren Myracle, 17th-century Norwegian poets to the Simpsons—and the final chapter analyzes texting (so like haiku!) and emoticons. Wordplay and cryptography aficionados will enjoy the intermittent coded puzzles that culminate in one final message. Riddle's simple cartoons, often visual puns, enhance the playful nature of this thoroughly engaging, well-crafted primer. (timeline, glossary, code key) (Nonfiction. 10 & up)Read full book review >
THE SINGING HAT by Tohby Riddle
ANIMALS
Released: April 19, 2001

Some moments in a life pass by strangely, and such is the case with Colin Jenkins in Riddle's (The Great Escape from City Zoo, 1999) decidedly peculiar picture book. Colin is your average man on the street. One day he grabs a catnap under a tree in the park and a bird builds its nest on his head. Colin, a fatalist and perhaps a bit of a Milquetoast, accepts his lot, then disarms readers with his honorable reasoning: He didn't wish to disturb the bird "at such a fragile and important time of life," nor was it "wise to interfere with nature." Now Colin becomes the object of scorn and ridicule by some, and admiration from others, while his daughter remains steadfast by his side. He loses some friends, his job, and his home. People just don't understand a man with a bird on his head. When things are at their bleakest, Colin learns from an ornithologist that the birds (the egg having hatched) on his head are "possibly the rarest in the world." Suddenly, they take flight and Colin "felt a near avalanche of relief." At home he puts the empty nest on a table by a window and "from time to time he would find the most beautiful and improbable things in the nest." The artwork has a slightly retro look with bits of collage and fine linework, the figures often set in front of a lightly sketched-in city or a solid-white background as if to add importance. A lovely book and an equally lovely tale full of decency and graciousness, this is worthy of reflection in a feckless world. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THE GREAT ESCAPE FROM CITY ZOO by Tohby Riddle
Released: Sept. 13, 1999

A deadpan lesson on starting over, and the obstacles to be met on the way. An anteater, elephant, turtle, and flamingo propose to start a new life free from the bars of the past. They escape from the zoo, and then, by moving constantly, wearing disguises, and laying low, attempt to avoid the zookeepers hot on their trail. The anteater goes solo, but the other three stick together and head for the border. All appears to be going well until the anteater faints outside a taxidermy shop, the turtle falls helplessly on his back, and the elephant spouts water in the town fountain, garnering unwanted attention and leading to their return to the zoo. Only the flamingo escapes unscathed. Riddle conjures up the action in the gray-and-white misty tones of memory, for this story of derring-do is one, it's said, that has been passed down through generations of zoo animals. In a text that has something of the terse, gritty narration of old detective stories, and with visual references to Edward Hopper, King Kong, The Grapes of Wrath, and other cultural billboards, this is a book that will have adults pausing to savor the pages as children race to the exciting conclusion. (Picture book. 3-10) Read full book review >