Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Never Forgotten

Buy now from Random House

See more online stores - Never Forgotten

Never Forgotten

Written by Patricia C. McKissackAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Patricia C. McKissack
Illustrated by Leo DillonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon, Ph.D.Author Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Diane Dillon, Ph.D.

Never Forgotten Cover

Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - Never Forgotten
  • Email this page - Never Forgotten
  • Print this page - Never Forgotten


A 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book

This gorgeous picture book by Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack and two-time Caldecott Medal-winning husband-and-wife team Leo and Diane Dillon is sure to become a treasured keepsake for African American families. Set in West Africa, this a lyrical story-in-verse is about a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, and his father who is left behind to mourn the loss of his son. Here's a beautiful, powerful, truly unforgettable story about family, memory, and freedom.

"Forceful and iconic," raves Publishers Weekly in a starred review.
Leo Dillon

About Leo Dillon

Leo Dillon - Never Forgotten

Photo © Lee Dillon

What does an illustrator really do? Once we have the story most of the work is done, right?
Not exactly.

Our work begins when we choose a manuscript. We chose Patricia McKissick’s beautiful story Never Forgotten because of the message: the love of a father for his son, of family, and remembering “lost ones.”

After that, our first step is to mark up the manuscript to fit the number of pages the book will be, and identify the parts we feel are most important to illustrate. Then we decide what style and technique would best fit the story, as well as the time in which it takes place. For Never Forgotten, the African woodblock printing of fabric was our inspiration.

Next is research. Africans are known for their amazing ironwork. What did their kilns and tools look like?  Examples were difficult to find. While the author needs written information for research,  the artist needs images. Never Forgotten combines realism with fantasy. The art had to be believable, but the elements—air, water, fire, and earth—were left to our imaginations. It is our job to fill in between the lines, to show details the author didn’t have the space to tell. We must build that visual world. What are the characters wearing? What are their emotions? We pace the action and avoid repetition. If the main character is in the foreground, on the next page he might be farther back. What time of day is it? We can show that with color. Did the story take place in one day or over many days? These are some of the things we must think about.

The challenges and decisions we must make keep our job interesting and different with every book.

We hope we help the reader imagine the world between the first and last page and inspire them to love reading.
Praise | Awards


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, August 8, 2011:
"Forceful and iconic, the Dillons’ (The Secret River) woodcut-style paintings use gentle colors and strong lines to telegraph scary sequences, but do not dwell on them...The willingness to turn the dark history of the past into literature takes not just talent but courage. McKissack has both."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, August 2011:
"The pictures demonstrate the miracle of superb book illustration: how something that lies flat on the page can convey such depth, texture, and feeling. This sad but powerful tale will not be easily accessible to many kids, but here’s hoping that there are a lot of patient and appreciative adults (teachers, parents, librarians) to introduce them to it."

Starred Review, Booklist, September 1, 2011:
"The dramatic, thickly outlined acrylic-andwatercolor illustrations extend the story’s magical realism and intensify the anguish and grief in the words. Both words and images come together in a conclusion that brings hope, with the promise of freedom"

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2011:
"Sounds of drums and song for each element (Fire is “Kiki Karum Kiki Karum Kiki Karum,” while Water is “Shum Da Da We Da Shum Da Da We Da,” for instance) emphasize the storyteller’s voice in the narrative, inviting listeners to participate and engage. Full-page and border paintings in acrylic and watercolor use strong black lines, almost like woodcut engravings, in deep browns, earth colors and subtle jewel tones against creamy backgrounds...A totally absorbing poetic celebration of loss and redemption."

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November 1, 2011:
“McKissak gives her legend-making genuine momentum as well as scope….Stories of the middle passage rarely focus on the pain of those left behind, and this is a creative yet poignant treatment of that grief.”


WINNER 2011 National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award
WINNER 2011 Booklist Children's Editors' Choice
WINNER 2011 Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
WINNER 2012 Notable Books for a Global Society Award
WINNER 2012 Parents' Choice Gold Award
NOMINEE Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
NOMINEE NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies
HONOR Coretta Scott King Author Award
WINNER 2011 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio
WINNER 2012 Pen/Steven Kroll Award
NOMINEE ALA Notable Children's Book
HONOR Coretta Scott King Author Honor
Teachers Guide

Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: