✰✰✰✰ 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.
The Bottom Line: As a sequel, Toby and the Secrets of the Tree seamlessly continues the suspense of the first book. Since this book begins in the middle of Toby's adventure, be sure to check out Toby Alone first. Like the first novel, Toby and the Secrets of the Tree, is told in a style that uses flashback to fill in the backstory. Both novels are fast-paced and action-packed. de Fombelle's beautiful descriptions of the tree awaken and appreciation for nature. Additionally, the pen and ink illustrations by Francois Place enhance the story.
Due to the graphic violence depicted in parts of the story, Toby and the Secrets of the Tree is appropriate for kids and teens ages 12 and up. This imaginative adventure is highly recommended.
Details: Toby and the Secrets of the Tree by Timothée de Fombelle, illustrated by Francois Place and translated by Sarah Ardizzone. Advanced Reading Copy published by Candlewick Press in 2010. 432 p. ISBN: 978-0-7636-4655-4 Note: I received a complimentary Advance Reading Copy from Candlewick Press in exchange for a review. This was made possible by the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.