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4.2 out of 5 stars
35
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 9 April 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a fantastic journey into a world in miniature. Fombelle has created an amazing world peopled with adorable characters. The main character, Toby, goes on incredible journeys that are breathtaking and action packed. The story has everything; love, betrayal, adventure, goodies, baddies, courage and heartbreak. It does go back and forth in time, but is written in a manner that is clear and concise with no confusion. Not an easy feat to carry off, so full marks to Fombelle for that. Although it carries a strong ecological message, the book never comes across as `preachy' at all, and reminded me in some ways of Fern Gully by Diana Young, with a mixing of The Borrowers thrown in too. However, that's not to say this book isn't unique in its own right and I feel that it will be a great read for old and young alike. I can't wait for the sequel!
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on 20 April 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A highly enjoyable Sunday morning spent reading this book. Although aimed at young adults this is a book that should appeal to an audience of any age. At times it is so easy to forget that Toby is actually teeny tiny and lives in a tree! I so wish I could read French as I would love to read it in it's native language, however the translation was excellent and I don't really feel I'm actually missing anything.

Every now and again there are some wonderful translations by Francois Place and they add so much to the story, especially (I imagine) for children. I felt how I feel when ever I pick up a Roald Dahl book - you have a fabulous story but then Quentin Blake's illustrations just add something else to it.

The story is a reflection on society although many other aspects could be taken away from the book. What you get from it will depend firstly on your age I believe. Secondly it depends on your interest or on what level you are reading it. On its own, it's a tremendous story, after that you can see aspects of environmental issues and a society who want to prosper but at the detriment of future generations. It is a novel about love and fighting for what you believe in. It is truly magical!

It's not quite a five for me, although I have a feeling that the second part will achieve the five. The characters are convincing and I think the setting is truly imaginative. It does borrow on other children's stories but I feel they have been used as stimulus to get the story started and then it has taken off on its own. I seem to be talking myself into 5 stars here but I will stick with my original 4, well it could be 4.5 ;-).

Happy reading.
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VINE VOICEon 7 April 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed this inventive rollocking read. This is a great story of a young lad and his adventures and trials through a minature world of green bark hills, watery caves, moss forests and mazes of mistletoe. Toby, a mere pin-head of a boy, lives on an old Oak Tree which is, as far as his society is aware and concerned, the entire world. His father suspects different but because of his scientific knowledge and discovery of the tree's energy source he is persecuted and captured leaving Toby, alone, on the run. The story pulls you in from the very beginning and you travel with Toby through his twists and turns.
Interspersed with flashback sections, this is a linear saga of friendships and family, betrayal and bravery in a climate of fear, and with strong ecological underpinnings, the story could be seen to reflect many of the green issues that concern the earth today - the life force of the tree itself and the damage inflicted by the destruction of this natural resource despite it being integral to the continuation of society.
The different sections of the tree are each host to different ways of life, again reflecting cultures we are familiar with. From his early life in the high society of the Treetops to his family's exile pioneer existence in the harsh low branches, ending up in The Grasslnds and the nomadic hunter-gather life of the legendary Grass People.
Menacing Joe Mitch, the developer, a Chairman Mao character who sets himself up as the all-powerful Friendly Neighbour, who increasingly controls the tree with a network of nasty bullies, industrial digger weevils and soldiers ants. In his fast-paced adventure, Toby avoids and eludes Mitch, solving the riddle of his father's apparent betrayal, and there are many nuggets of good wisdom along the way. If I didn't know this was a translation I would never have guessed -it's been beautifully done with rich and flowing language, colloquial English idioms and great descriptions such as "Nightfall was smudging out the shadows."
I'd recommend this widely, my only caveat being that this is so blatantly the first half of a pair, the end is unsatisfying. It is frustrating to reach the end of the volume when Toby has not yet achieved what he set out to - there's an unresolved love interest and he still needs to find and resuce his parents. I look forward to the next half and just hope it isn't too long coming. In future I think the publisher should look to publish as a boxed set or an 800pp volume rather than in two books.
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VINE VOICEon 2 June 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Toby Lolness is only 1.5 millimetres tall, and his entire world is within the branches of an old Oak tree.

The story opens dramatically, with Toby on the run, in fear of his life. We gradually learn about his life with his parents, and that they are imprisoned, but Toby escaped, and is being hunted. The book intersperses the story of how Toby's father fell out with the Council that rules their world, with the twists and turns of Toby's attempt to escape.

Despite being a translation, there is some beautiful use of language in this book. I don't believe that it could flow any better if you were to read it in the original French.

The theme of the story is based around the use of the Oak tree, and the fact it is being damaged by the little people who live it, as they dig holes into the trunk, and mine the sap. The environmental issue gives the book a modern twist, but it doesn't take over the story - the focus remains on Toby, and on his escape, and later his search for his parents.

For once I can't think of any negatives to point out - I think this is a great book, and it deserves to become a new children's classic. I can't wait for the sequel!
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VINE VOICEon 13 April 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Toby, aged 13, is introduced mid chase. He and his family are the most wanted people in their world because they hold the secret. Toby's father has discovered how to tap energy from their environment. However, they predict that this knowledge, if exploited, will throw their civilization's harmony into jeopardy.

Toby is only a millimetre and a half tall (smaller than a greenfly); his world is a tree and the community that live there. Although Toby and his adventure are the main focus of the story, the lives of the tree folk set the scene in the delicately balanced existence of their miniature world.

The illustrations are excellent, quite Quentin Blake in style. They enhance the story rather than decorate it. Often, I enjoyed the pictures more than the words. Although light hearted throughout, I felt that some of the humour, which showed in the images, may have been lost in translation.

There are strong social, ecological and moral messages running through the story and Toby is faced with some difficult decisions in his epic first adventure.
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Toby Alone

I am nine years old and when I read Toby Alone I could not put the book down .The book it's self is a fablous book it makes you feel tense , happy , sad and all sorts of emotions at the same time. If I saw this book in a shop, I would go up to it because it is wonderfully ilustrated. I could read the whole book in one go because it is well set out and has some really good cliff hangers. I would class this book a five star book because it is exiting , good language (more grown up [I like that]) and exellent ilustrations.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Imagine being one and a half millimetres tall and your world is a giant Oak Tree. Well, this is where Toby lives with his parents the beautiful Maya and her husband, the Scientist, Sim Lolness. Their idyll is shattered when Sim manufactures something from the tree sap, and then realising how the sap works like blood giving their world life, he tries to explain to the Grand Tree Council how over-mining and boring for new and cheaper homes will eventually kill their world. Wisely, he refuses to impart his full knowledge of how the 'Balina' box works to the Grand Tree Council. In effect they are banished from the lush upper reaches to the low branches where they exist until a summons comes from an unpleasant party, Joe Mitch. He is intent through sheer ignorance and greed on killing the tree by over-using its resources. He must be stopped at all costs even if it means Toby must leave his parents to their fate and run away with a very valuable artifact his Grandmother had once owned.

There are equal measures of humour, love and friendship in this delightful book and also a nastier darker side too with Joe Mitch's hired hands doling out all sorts of ghastly punishments.

A story then of courage, hardship, friendship, betrayal, fortitude and also death. An element too of xenophobia where the Grass People are concerned.

I believe this book can be read two ways, one simply as a child's book and the other as a euphemism for Global Warming, Facism and Racism. If read as the latter, it is a fairly ghastly thought a bit like 1984 coming true.
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VINE VOICEon 18 April 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Although aimed at children i really did enjoy reading this and the subject matter was very different from what i had read before. As a fully gown adult i still think it was worth read, and would read again. wish i knew when the next one was out!
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VINE VOICEon 29 July 2008
Although I found the story took a little time to fully get my attention, once I did get into the story, I found it while an entertaining read.
The ecological message in the book is quite clear, as the tree is treated as an endless resource, not something that can be damaged or destroyed, and the idea of corrupt organisations influencing the leadership to cover this up is a central basis for the plot, although it is perhaps too exaggerated.
I suspect that an older (but pre-teen) child may enjoy this, and its setting is certainly vivid and interesting, but it's not really a book I'd recommend to an adult because of the over-simplification of concepts, and lack of complexity or subtlety in the characters and their motivations.
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VINE VOICEon 31 May 2008
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book despite it being given a 9+ age rating.

It is the story of Toby a boy only a few millimetres tall whose home is the tree. His Father, Sim, discovers the secret of the tree and is banished to the lower branches.

The story chops and changes from different parts in Toby's life. And tells of how is on the run! Later on you discover the reasons for this.

It covers he friendship with the girl Elisha and talks of Joe Mitch Arbour a mighty business developer in the tree who is more concerned with making money and bullying than the fact that he may be destroying their home.

So there are some kind of eco messages going on through the book, but they are subtle enough not to be preachy or impact on the story going on behind it.

All in all a fast paced book, full of enough twists and turns and interesting characters to keep you interested...

And make you want to buy the 2nd part which I don't think is out just yet. Looking forward to reading it!
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