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Toby Alone Hardcover – March 24, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763641812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763641818
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.3 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,163,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

This book is not appropriate for children.
John Public
I did not find the book predictable, which was what kept me reading until the very last page.
Island girl
I haven't read this book to my daughter yet, but it looks great!
Kimberly L. Anderson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dana Carrigan on October 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
When I picked up this book, I wasn't sure if it was for kids or adults. The storyline of a population of people only a millimeter and a half tall and occupying a tree seems written for children. However, the depth of content and allegorical content is much more appropriate for older readers. As an adult, I was fascinated by the plot and was hooked early on. The violence throughout the book makes it inappropriate for children. I would recommend it for teens and older. I thought the analogy between the tree and how their culture treated it and our care for the earth was thought-provoking and relevant. I also thought the characters were well developed and believable.

Great read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Lee on January 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
As a mother who screens everything her 11-year-old daughter reads, I always welcome recommendations from librarians and booksellers, especially if they are pre-published. When we received "Toby Alone" by Timothée De Fombelle, it was not a pre-pub - but still new to our library, and I am really glad our library has it in their catalogue. It is not a "happy" book, and the way it is structured is reminiscent of how tree roots and branches grow, really, tangling back and forth and doubling over - it is disturbing in the way Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was disturbing when I read it in school, only a little less. Maybe. It is very thought-provoking, and raises very eerie questions about what power really means in the hands of conscience, when the viewpoint is not a popular one. What does our government know that they are keeping from us for "our own good"? Or the good of the environment? The good of "life as we know it"? These are easily very deep questions that would generate heated discussions in the classrooms during Literature class and, while I really can't say I *enjoyed* the book, I find myself thinking about it and the issues it raises long after I've put the book down. I guess it's a book that really *grows* on you! I believe said daughter feels similarly. In her words:

"The book, `Toby Alone' by Timothée De Fombelle is an adventurous, if unsettling, book for tweens.

"Toby is only one millimeter tall at 13 and, lives in a big oak tree with his parents. Already, he has a so-called life of crime, due to his father. You see, Toby's father is a famous scientist. Everyone admires him. That is, until he finds a secret he is not willing to part with, because it will kill the very tree they live in, even though it would help people work less. That's all.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By John Public on April 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is not appropriate for children. Some chapters toward the end contain disturbing violence, sadistic cruelty, and torture that make the book unacceptable. That much of this seems to be written to be humorous actually makes it more, not less disturbing. I made the mistake of reading this book to my kids, who are 7 and 11. Although we enjoyed most of the first half of the book, which is beautifully written, the children became increasingly upset as we kept reading and when we reached the last few chapters I decided to stop and did not finish the book with them. I do not think that books for children need to have happy endings or that, within reason, they cannot contain violence but this book crosses the line.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Big momma VV on September 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
THis book was recommended to me by a librarian for my 8 year old son. It is full of horrible, cruel, disgusting acts of cruelty perpetrated on a variety of characters, including a reference to rape of Toby's mother. As an adult, listening to it with my 8 year olds, I was originally intrigued by the story, the parallels to our current societal situation and the introspective depth of the story. I understand why the author uses the graphic descriptions for acts related to the bad people in the story, however, I wish I would have understood those things were going to be included in advance, I would never have let them listen to or read it at all. I think it is a story that would be relevant and interesting for conversation among adults or young adult children, 14 and older, but not for younger kids.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KidsReads on June 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Life is difficult when you're 13 years old. Life is even tougher when you're 13 and one-and-a-half millimeters tall. And life possibly could not get any worse when you're 13, one-and-a-half millimeters tall, and on the run with a secret that people would kill for --- even if it means killing an innocent child. Toby Lolness, however, takes it all in stride as he plots to save his parents and clear the family name from the misunderstanding that started the whole mess.

Toby and his parents, the brilliant scientist Sim and the lovely Maya, were exiled to the lower branches of the great oak Tree years ago after Sim discovered an amazing fact about the home of their great civilization --- it's alive! With his family looking on, Sim demonstrates to the grand council how the Tree's sap works and how harming it will kill their only home. This alarming news is not met with open arms by one particular member of the council, Joe Mitch, who is making a gold mine with his deep digging operation at the center of the tree and who hopes to harvest the sap for his own benefit. When Sim refuses to share the secret of the power of the sap, Mitch leads the effort to banish Sim, Maya and Toby from the summit of the Tree.

At first Toby is apprehensive about the lower branches. His family is starting from scratch, it is close to the grasslands and the mysterious (if not dangerous) grass people, and Toby is without a friend his own age. Slowly but surely, Toby begins to adapt to his surroundings. He has an uncanny sense of direction among the rugged wilderness and has befriended the beautiful Elisha Lee, a girl his own age with whom he spends much of his time. Over the years Toby grows up healthy and happy, even if he is short.
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