By Rafa Ruiz
Rated: 4 Stars ****
It is with great pleasure that I present to you my review of Toletis by Rafa Ruiz. The book for people ages 7 to 107 because it has important themes of friendship, the environment and there’s plenty of adventure and some humour, complete with illustrations. This is a book that adults and children can read alone or enjoy together and gain something from it. It is a book to inspire everyone at every milestone in their lives.
Today is happily my turn on the Random Things Blog Tour I was invited on.
About the Author
Rafa Ruiz is a journalist and author who has a staunch commitment to culture, art and the environment. He spent 25 years at Spanish newspaper El País and is a partner-founder of the Press Association for Environmental Information (APIA). 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 one of the partner-founders of the Press Association for Environmental Information (APIA).
Elena Hormiga is an illustrator with a sense of humour. She studied and worked as an engineer and later turned to illustration
Ben Dawlatly took an MA in Hispanic Studies and Translation Theory at UCL. He translates both technical and literary texts. However, his real calling is in fiction and poetry.
Trees are disappearing and 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, luscious green again. The odds are stacked against them. Can they succeed… with some very unusual help?
Toletis is a positive role model for boys
Toletis is a quiet, sensitive and caring boy who isn’t afraid to show his emotions. His character is a perfect antidote to the expectations of a “typical” boy: loud, boisterous and destructive. This is definitely a book for parents who reject the saying “boys will be boys”.
The ‘big’ real life stuff
One of the things I love most about Toletis is that it touches on big real life events such as the death of a family member in a wholesome and loving way. Sad events in the book are neither taboo nor overly sad; they are expertly touched upon in a way that is both matter-of-fact and empathetic.
Toletis encourages a love of nature
It’s easy to be drawn in by the immersive storytelling and beautiful illustrations. Toletis spends much of the book exploring the hills and valleys around his home, foraging, planting trees and doing all of the things every child should. The book gives just enough detail – the smells, the sounds of the hills are so clear you’re almost there yourself.
Toletis has a good sense of justice
Toletis has a good sense of justice. When trees are cut down to put a wide road through the town, he hatches a plan to stop it. He knows what is wrong in the world and isn’t afraid to step up and change it.
Travel along with the playful mist and meet Toletis who has a love of trees and to get to know them all as well as grow one, especially an apple tree. The book goes into the fascination of this in a lovely amount of detail and enough to feed the curiosity of young minds. Toletis’s friend Tutan also has a deep interest in wildlife and tries to imitate birds such as hen harriers, swifts, tawny owls and more and also animals such as pigs, horses, dogs and more.
In Spring time, also meet the Treenie-weenies, who are all the souls of the trees that had been felled, who then inhabit other trees. There’s an issue though – the town isn’t planting more trees and the Treenie-weenies are bored. Read on to find out what they do in the end. It certainly wasn’t what I expected, it was even better.
In the book you can join Toletis at his school and learn the Wobbegong language, which his teacher doesn’t understand and is reminded to write in English, but he speaks it with Aunty Josifina as they play with words and language and just have fun with it.
It is soon Summer time and there’s more people to meet and things to do.
Meet Alexander Atherton Aitken who comes to see Toletis, Tutan and Claudia on a farm. There visitor just isn’t used to farm animals. There’s fun and tall tales to be had and later in the chapter Lian – AAA as Alexander was shortened to has tales of his own to tell about Julian and whether he went to war or not and whether he was the Lian or not. Read on to find out what happens next and about the mysterious house.
Autumn arrives and Toletis promises hazlenuts for his mum and goes “nutting” a tree. There’s some natural child thoughts about how Toletis imagines his mum not being around anymore. It seems dark, but lots of children, including me, has thought and imagined this in childhood. In this case it sweetly makes Toletis appreciate his mum even more. There’s also a parts of growing up as he looks at his dad’s legs and compares them with his own, just to see if they’re the same. Children will relate to this as they try to make sense of things as they grow. There’s comfort to be gained by this part in the stories.
Behold the rickety mansion that belongs to Claudia’s Granny Ursula with her animal-like eyes. It is atmospheric and a feast for the eyes with its antique furniture and cakes, lots of cakes and then a further surprise of something else edible on the third floor. Read further to find out what…
Enter the Wide Road where people move too fast through their surroundings, never really paying attention to it as they speed along the road, that is also being widened by workmen. Toletis is different. He properly observes the surroundings. It highlights what plant species grow on road verges and their importance. There’s a stark contrast between the hard asphalt and the beauty of the green verges and the destruction of them and the speed on the roads and what harm can be done.
Winter brings a coldness that can almost be felt, as can the comfort of wintry foods. It also gives time for old photographs to come to the fore, which bring intrigue, beauty and fun that is so illustravely written.
Throughout the book there are adventures to have, friendships and a real care for the immediate environment, which is beautifully written. This may not be a book that immediately comes to people’s minds so quickly and yet there are important messages within it and it is a lovely story for children to explore this lovely vivid book alone or with and adult.
There are interesting illustrations throughout the book to assist in telling the story, which will appeal to many children of the ages 7 plus as they are now so used to reading books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates, Storey Treehouse series that all have illustrations through them too.
The book will appeal to boys and girls alike and has Toletis, the main character having the qualities of being a positive role model to both. It shows a sensitivity as well as still having humour and adventure throughout it.