TOBY by Marc Talbert


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We got more love than brains in this fam'bly,"" says Toby's father; here, that love is proof against a barrage of challenges. With a mentally retarded father who works as a pig butcher, and a brain-damaged mother serving lunches in the school cafeteria, Toby is an easy target for malicious, smooth-talking Harold Olsen, son of the local minister. The two fifth-graders carry on a small, vicious war, with Harold definitely being a bad egg, and Toby quick and ingenious in retaliation. Meanwhile, Reverend Olsen, convinced that Toby is running wild, is pushing to get him into a foster home; and a neighbor, Mr. Bertram, thinks the lad has been breaking into his house (it's really Harold). Toby is very upset by all this, so defiant, angry, and worried that he takes to wetting his bed and curling up in a hiding place under the porch. The intensity of his turmoil overshadows most of the story's moments of humor and good feeling--the vast and simple delight his parents take in one another and in him When, in one touching scene, he reads to them from The Incredible Journey stands out as an exception--and despite a climax in which Harold's true colors are revealed, readers are likely to pity Toby more than share his triumph. Talbert has created a highly unusual family with a rock-steady foundation, against which waves of prejudice, suspicion and self-righteousness break in vain.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0595097723
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Dial