#150 – The Too-Tall Troll in the Tiny Tollhouse by David E. Hubler

 4 Stars

Tilden Troll didn’t think he was any different from other trolls until he entered the first grade.  There, because  of his size, he was laughed at and teased by his classmates, who were led by one especially nasty bully.  But when the bully found himself in big trouble, only Tilden’s size could save him.  That became the start of a new friendship and the end of the bullying.  The class learned that it’s okay to be different, everyone is; but bullying andmaking fun of others is always wrong.

Tilden Troll is starting first grade.  He has a nice teacher and lots of interesting classmates.  One in particular has decided to give Tilden extra attention, all for the wrong reasons.  Toussant, who’s nickname is Terrible Toos, is a bully.  Yes, even in first grade there are bullies.

Terrible Toos enjoys teasing Tilden about his height.  Trolls are normally short.  So short, in fact, that we cannot see them.  Tilden was the exception, being the tallest troll any troll has ever seen.  Tilden doesn’t think anything of his tall stature until Terrible Toos begins calling him names.

.....Tilden Tower, you’re a smelly, tall mountain of trash.
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This only encourages the rest of the first grade.  They followed Terrible Toos taunting.

...............................Tilden the tower.   
................Tilden, Tilden, taller than a TV tower! 
...........Tilden, Tilden, higher than a meteor shower!
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Tilden’s father Thomas, has recently received a promotion from trolley token-taker to tollhouse toll-taker, which includes a new home in the tollhouse.  Tilden’s parents think a class outing to the tollhouse will help Tilden make friends.  They think the kids see will want to be Tilden’s friend when they learn he lives in a tollhouse.

The day the class arrives, so does a trollnedo.  The wicked storm causes everyone to go inside, but one troll is missing.  Terrible Toos took off once the bus stopped.  Now he is outside in the trollnedo, stuck up in a tree.  The only troll tall enough to save him is Tilden.

The Too-Tall Troll in the Tiny Tollhouse is a good book for anyone teased for being different in some way.  Terrible Toos learned how to be a bully from his older brother Timon the Terrible.  Most bullies are actually afraid of something and are cowardly.  Terrible Toos shows his cowardice during the trollnedo when Tilden tries to help him out of the tree.  Once the bully stops teasing, so does the rest of the class, who were simply glad they were not being bullied.

In the beginning of the book, I was uncertain who the story was about.  The first four pages are all about the father and his big promotion.  This set-up is a bit long for a short story.  The author is skilled in word play and can make nearly anything funny.  Kids will get big laughs out of some of the lines.

. . . trolley transit line between the small troll town of Here and . . . There, . . . used to be a stop at the even smaller ..... town of Nowhere, but . . .all trolls had moved to Elsewhere. 
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The ending is action-packed but a bit confusing.  I have re-read this several times and still cannot envision how Tilden raised each leg and stuck it out the window where, outside, his father and teacher each held on to a leg to keep Tilden in place.

Then, a roaring wind flew into the tollhouse as soon as Tilden stretched himself across the width of the tollhouse.  He stretched, stretched, stretched until, at last, his head and chest were outside the window on the opposite side of the tollhouse. 

Tilden grabbed the tree trunk and held on while Terrible Too climbed down his back into the open window.

Why doesn’t Tilden just go to the other window and stretch out that one to the tree, rather than starting at the opposite window?  Why does he step out of the window and then stretch back into the tollhouse and out the opposite window?

This scene seems to have confused the illustrator as well.  He drew Tilden stepping out the window, without anyone holding onto to his legs, catching the once brave bully.  Exciting, heart-pounding scenes can be difficult to write.

I like the inclusion of Tilden’s classmates following the bully’s lead.  This illustrates the power others give to bullies, peer pressure to go along, and the isolation that teasing can bring about.

I think kids will enjoy The Too-Tall Troll in the Tiny Tollhouse, especially boys and reluctant readers.  This “one chapter” book is easy to read, has lots of fun word play, and goofy humor.  Dealing with a bully may not always be as easy as saving him from a trollnedo, but anyone who has ever dealt with one will enjoy seeing him up a tree and scared.

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The Too-Tall Troll in the Tiny Tollhouse

Author: David E. Hubler  website
Illustrator:  Carlos Lemos   website
Publishing:  Mirror Publishing   website
Release Date:  2010
ISBN:  978-1-936352-69-2
Number of Pages: 36
Ages: 6 to 9
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