Amazon Best of the Month, March 2009:
Who says great characters need to be larger than life? Meet Toby Lolness, a boy who stands one and a half millimeters tall (just smaller than the tip of a pencil). This Lilliputian hero lives in a marvelously vast complex of trunks and branches known as the Tree, an enormous oak inhabited by a tiny civilization. Toby's idyllic childhood is threatened when his scientist father figures out what keeps the Tree alive, and what will eventually cause its death: a seemingly endless supply of sap that people hope to tap and convert into a source of energy. In this thrilling eco-allegory, young Toby is in the race of his life to rescue himself, his family and the Tree from imminent destruction by powerful corporate interests that threaten them all. Timothée de Fombelle's Toby Alone
takes readers on a fast-paced adventure of unusual proportions and unexpected perspectives. Now translated into nearly two dozen languages, this cleverly illustrated debut is sure to win the hearts of English readers (ages 9 and up) on this side of the Atlantic. --Lauren Nemroff
From Publishers Weekly
The impressive debut novel from French playwright de Fombelle deftly weaves mature political commentary, broad humor and some subtle satire into a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. The people of the Tree are two millimeters tall or less, but their society mimics ours. Industrialists keep digging holes, politicians play dirty games and scientists conduct research to discover the nature of the world in which they live. Toby Lolness, the son of a renowned scientist, is forced to become a fugitive when his father’s discoveries reveal the dangers presented by the continued development of the Tree. Toby’s story is revealed in flashbacks as he runs from the cronies of Joe Mitch, a builder who has rapidly become a political powerhouse. Mitch’s machinations have turned the Tree into a totalitarian society in which reading and writing are banned, and only Toby remains free to try to rescue his parents and bring down Mitch and his crew. It’s hard not to see some of the book’s antecedents—the Borrowers, the Littles, etc.—but de Fombelle has built a unique world with a fully developed social and political structure. Ages 9–up. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.