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Toby and the Secrets of the Tree Hardcover – June 1, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books Ltd (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140631014X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406310146
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,262,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–After the cliff-hanger ending of Toby Alone (Candlewick, 2009), the miniature protagonist returns to try to locate his kidnapped parents and prevent the destruction of the Tree that houses settlements of tiny humans. His childhood friend Leo Blue has become a power broker and rules from the Nest on high, while Joe Mitch maintains control of the Low Branches, capturing and enslaving Grass people to dig out the Crater and increase his fortune. Between Leo's blind quest for supremacy and Joe Mitch's exploitation of its resources, the Tree is rapidly declining. Toby must navigate carefully to avoid the dangers they present. Moreover, Leo is determined to win Elisha Lee, and, when he realizes that Toby holds her heart, his intent to destroy his former friend becomes murderous. De Fombelle sprinkles social commentary liberally throughout the plot's twists and turns, and, while it will go over the heads of some readers, others will appreciate the pulls between big business and the environment and the distrust between the Grass and Tree people. Place's pen-and-ink illustrations are scattered generously throughout and enhance the overall quirkiness. Though the forvolume can stand alone, youngsters unfamiliar with the first installment may find it difficult to keep track of the large cast of characters and where their loyalties lie. This interesting piece of eco-fantasy provides a satisfying conclusion for those who enjoyed the first book.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Timothee de Fombelle is a much-admired French playwright. Initially working as a teacher/lecturer, he soon turned to writing and in 2006 produced his first novel, Toby Alone, known in his native France as Tobie Lolness. Highly acclaimed, it has been translated into 22 different languages and has won numerous prizes. Toby's extraordinary story continues in Toby and the Secrets of the Tree.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Toby Lolness watched helplessly as his life crumbled away. His parents, Sim and Maya, were found guilty of crimes against the Tree and sent away as prisoners. Leo Blue, his former best friend, put a price on his head and slowly picked away at everything important to him. Elisha, Toby's romantic interest, was captured and held captive. Leo Blue doubled his efforts in drilling a deep, harmful crater in the middle of the Tree. Feeling lost, abandoned and powerless, Toby fled to the Grass People to try and forget his tortured past.

Once there, Toby slowly began to rebuild his strength, stamina and heart. He made friends, learned more about the world, and rekindled the desire to fight against the injustice Leo Blue was inflicting upon the Tree. Toby vowed never to stop until the Tree, his home, was reclaimed and healed. Now, more than ever, Toby has reason to return.

Elisha is currently being held in one of the eggs in the nest in the North branches. Although not able to fully get Elisha under his control, Leo Blue is nevertheless moving forward with a forced marriage. Elisha's freedom is slowly disappearing, and Toby is nowhere to be found. His parents have been struggling under harsh working conditions in the forced labor camp that is slowly digging a large, destructive crater in the middle of the tree, and they're beginning to lose hope that their son is even alive. In addition to Sim and Maya, numerous Grass People have been captured and forced into manual labor as well. Treated as second-class citizens, the Grass People are looking for a savior.

Never one to give up easily, Toby has a plan. One advantage he has is that no one recognizes him anymore. He used to be small and wiry but has since stretched out and grown into a young man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N. A. H. on August 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The sequel to Toby Alone continues the epic eco-adventure of Toby Lolness and his fight to save his miniature world. After living with the Grass People for several years, Toby realizes that he must return to the tree. He is alarmed by what he finds. Not only is the tree dying, but his beloved Elisha is being held captive in a Treetop Nest. Her fiancé is none other than Toby's enemy and former best friend, Leo Blue.

Meanwhile, Joe Mitch, the "Friendly Neighbor" with an obsession for digging holes, continues his destructive ways. Mitch forces his captives, including Toby's parents, the Scholars, and the Grass People, to dig a crater that threatens the well-being of the tree.

While time is running out for all, Sim Lolness continues to withhold the secret of Balina as Toby struggles to stop both Leo's relentless quest to conquer the Grass People and Joe Mitch's quest to destroy the tree. Toby bravely endures betrayal and hatred in his pursuit to find friendship and love. Along the way he makes new friends and meets some old ones in his journey to free his loved ones and save the oak tree he calls home before all is lost.

In this miniature world where the people are just 1.5 mm tall, life is all too fragile and uncertain. de Fombelle has created a tiny civilization whose survival depends on the well-being of a single oak tree. The tree and the destruction that plagues it mirror the Earth's woes. Similarly, prejudice exists in this mini world where two races struggle to survive with the Tree People viewing themselves as superior to the Grass People. Thus, the Toby Lolness series offers a unique example of sociology and ecology.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved this book which is targeted to the Young Adult (YA) audience. However, there are a couple of issues I discuss below which might influence an individual's decision whether to read it or not. First, it's the second in a two book series. Second, there are scenes of great violence where individuals and creatures are tortured and die (description not criticism).

Some sequels can be read out of sequence, but this is not one. I wouldn't hesitate to say you should borrow/buy/steal the first title, Toby Alone and read it before reading the second book. I borrowed Toby Alone from my public library and read it just a few days before I received my Advance Reading Copy via LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program. The first book thoroughly lays out the society of millimeter sized people living in a tree, and develops most of the individual characters. Toby Alone ends abruptly, with Toby and the Secrets of the Tree picking up immediately after. I can't imagine understanding most of the plot in the sequel without the earlier book's extensive exposition of place and characters.

This book is translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone who won the Marsh Award for Children's Literature in 2009 for the earlier book, Toby Alone, and this translation is as seamless as the first book.
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