Happy New Year to all.
After a year of reading books where young protagonists face so many heartbreaking challenges, it was a pleasure to sit back during the holiday season and enjoy this quiet tale. First written in Spanish and now translated into English, the book consists of twelve chapters following a year in the life of Toletis. He’s a boy who contemplates a lot about the seasons, the love for his Mother, friendships, and loneliness.
Each chapter focuses on an aspect of the environment. Toletis has a passion for plants and animals and does everything to ensure the best for them. Although the text is closer to what you might find in an MG book, the result is more like a chapter book—one to be shared by a teacher with their class or a parent with a child.
Toletis is a thinker and his reflections are often accompanied by full-page color illustrations. Our “always on” generation would do themselves a favor by looking out their own windows and seeing the beauty that Toletis has found.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017 PAGE COUNT: 272
FULL PLOT (From Neem Tree Press)
The Trees are disappearing and the adults don’t care. Toletis, his dog Amenophis and friends Claudia and Tutan are on a mission to turn their little valley town, set deep in the mountains, lusciously green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed … with some very unusual help?
A deep appreciation for nature, art, language, music, friendship, family, the passing of time, old age, loneliness; and the importance of sitting still and reflecting on life, pervade these exquisite stories. A must read for 7 to 107 year olds!
The stories are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations by the uniquely talented Elena Hormiga and have been used by 11-12 year olds in Spanish schools for teaching descriptive and figurative language, art and crafts (with students exploring different media inspired by scenes from the book), and environmental awareness classes.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: TOLETIS
- The fanciful and bold illustrations are a joy to the eyes. You can see some of Elena Hormiga’s work on her website.
- The chapters follow the seasons from spring to winter. A nice connection to Toletis’ fear that some day the beautiful scenery might never come back.
- There is magic in nature and touches of magical realism in several of the stories.
- The chapter where Toletis looks at old photos was my favorite. He imagines different people together and sees himself in ways he hadn’t seen before.
- The solution that Toletis and friends come up with to keep a road from being built through their town is a love card to nature.
But if the adults were speaking about how the meadows would feel after the rain and sleet, or if they spoke about a diseased cow, or about a marten of fox that had gotten into the chicken coop, Toletis would open up his ears. He wouldn’t even blink. He would push all of his concentration and perception to his ears, and then he would carefully order all the words into the little drawers in his brain, so that he could pull them out later in the afternoon and analyze the conversation in more detail, going back again and again to the dialogues.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Rafa Ruiz (from Amazon):
Rafa Ruiz is a journalist and author who believes the light at the end of the tunnel can only be seen through progressive eyes. He has a staunch commitment to culture, art and the environment, and the majority of his career has been focused on these three areas. He spent 10 years at Spanish newspaper El Pais and 15 years at their weekly supplement, he has written numerous children’s books, and he codirects the Mad is Mad art gallery in Madrid which gives space to up-and-coming artists. He is also one of the partner-founders of the Press Association for Environmental Information (APIA).