Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Toby Alone Audio

Toby Alone Audio

Timothee de Fombelle
10 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Peter Berkrot
Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, 2010   ISBN: 1441888829

Toby Lolness has a charmed childhood until he is seven years old. After that, his life changes dramatically. His father, Sim, is a well-respected scientist who has been studying the Tree that they all live in. Unlike so many of the other people who live in the Tree, Sim is convinced that the Tree is part of something bigger, and that it is alive; which means that the people and the tree are connected and dependent on each other. Sim feels that the people need to protect the Tree and its resources, not exploit it. Unfortunately, this opinion greatly angers Joe Mitch, a developer who is determined to use the Tree to make himself richer and more powerful than everyone else.

After Sim announces his discoveries about the Tree, he, his wife, and seven-year-old Toby are exiled to the Low Branches. At first Toby is very upset to leave the Treetop, but over time, he and his parents build a new life for themselves. Toby makes a friend who becomes very precious to him. Her name is Elisha, and she lives near a beautiful lake.

When Toby is thirteen, he and his family go up to the Treetop for his grandmother’s funeral. With no warning, Joe Mitch and his hoodlums turn up, and they capture Toby’s parents. Thanks to his father’s quick thinking, Toby escapes. He is pursued by hoards of people, many of whom are eager to kill him as soon as they get their hands on him. Using his wits, Toby manages to get away, but he is betrayed again and again by the people he thought were his friends. Thankfully, Elisha stays true to Toby, and she hides him from his enemies. There comes a time though when Toby realizes that he cannot spend his life in hiding. He cannot sit around waiting for his parents. Instead, he has to leave the safety of the Low Branches to find out what has happened to them.

Though Toby is only one and half millimeters tall when we first meet him, he lives in a fascinating and complicated world that is, in many ways, much like ours. In no time at all, listeners are sure to become completely caught up in this extraordinary story, which is beautifully narrated by Peter Berkrot. Throughout the tale, listeners will encounter colorful characters and powerful messages that are relevant to all of us.

Toby’s story continues in Toby and the Secrets of the Tree.

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