Timothée de Fombelle

Timothée de Fombelle, born in Paris in 1973, discovered early in life that he had a passion both for writing and theatre. At the age of seventeen he founded the theatre group »La Troupe des Bords de Scène«, for which he wrote and directed. After completing his studies in literature he worked as a teacher in various places, among them Hanoi and Courneuve, a Parisian suburb. He made a brilliant literary début with the adventure novel »Tobie Lolness: La vie suspendue« ( »Toby Alone«, 2008) in 2006, and has since been considered among the best-known authors for children writing in French.
In his entrancing heroic epic Timothée de Fombelle shows »how rich and ever-fresh Europe’s story-telling tradition is, when it tries to impart courage and ethical values to children and youth« (»Die Zeit«). In a style that is both fast-paced and light-footed, he relates the adventures of the brave Toby Lolness, who is only one and a half centimetres tall and lives in a majestic oak tree. When Toby’s father, a highly gifted scientist and philosopher, refuses to disclose the secret of a revolutionary energy source in order to save the tree from exploitation, and falls out of favour with the Great Tree Council, the Lolness family is banished to the »Lower Branches« and finally sentenced to death. Toby alone manages to escape and attempts to save his parents, pursued by the tyrannical snout beetle breeder Jo Mitch and his ruthless private army. Through prolonged, calculated flashbacks Fombelle – as an »exceptionally gifted« storyteller (»Süddeutsche Zeitung«) – unfolds a many-layered plot which chronicles the efforts and tests of character of the tiny human actors, alongside betrayal, friendship and love. With poetic force he creates a self-sufficient microcosm of tame aphids, endearing slugs and horrific fighting ants. His fabled tree-world also deals with controversial themes, including shortages of natural resources and climatic change as well as xenophobia and the emergence of dictatorships through intimidation and manipulation. Fombelle presents the tree with all of its labyrinths of branches, moss forests and foliage as a biotope worthy of protection, and sharpens the view towards the »turning-point from an agrarian to an exploitative society« (»Die Zeit«): »To me, the trees are green planets and like these trees, my planet earth is (also) endangered«, said Fombelle about his idea of inventing a tree-people for his first children’s book.
In the second volume, »Tobie Lolness: Les yeux d’Elisha« (2007; t: Toby alone: Elisha’s eyes), after having spent two years in the »Grass Land« with the »Skinless«, the thirteen year-old finds out that his parents, believed to be dead, are still alive and he decides to return to the tree. Both books have been translated into over twenty languages and awarded numerous prizes, including the Prix Saint-Exupéry (2006) and the Prix Sorcières (2007). Timothée de Fombelle lives in Paris

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