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Toby and the Secrets of the Tree

Review

Toby and the Secrets of the Tree

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. The other advantage is that he can instantly make friends and gain the trust of those around him. So he starts small, first joining the woodcutters as they beat back the lichen and learning of secret fugitives who hope to start a rebellion. He revisits old stomping grounds that reveal more secrets about the safety and whereabouts of the people he loves. Finally, he learns about a hidden secret from his past that has more control over him than he realized. But are these secrets enough to save the Tree?

The beauty of TOBY AND THE SECRETS OF THE TREE is found in the characters and their relationships to each other and the Tree. It slowly starts dawning on all of the characters that they are interconnected, and how they treat each other ultimately influences how they treat their home, the Tree. Much could be said for how humanity treats each other and our home, Earth. This allegorical tale is an optimistic one, though, and the story will ultimately pull at your heartstrings. Fans who have been waiting for a satisfying conclusion will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 10, 2010

Toby and the Secrets of the Tree
by Timothee de Fombelle

  • Publication Date: August 10, 2010
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick
  • ISBN-10: 0763646555
  • ISBN-13: 9780763646554