Ivan's Reviews > The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
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Aug 16, 14

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Read from November 06 to 10, 2011

Someone in a review said “The Phantom Tollbooth” was their first favorite book. Oh, how I wish I could make that claim [mine was “The Story of Babar”].

I didn’t start “really” reading until I was late into my teens; and so, with a few exceptions like E. B. White and Beverly Cleary, I didn’t read children’s literature – nothing in the independent readers or young adult genres. A few months ago I resolved to remedy that sad fact by reading those books I skipped while growing up.

What a treasure I’ve discovered. Thus far I’ve read eight or nine books by Roald Dahl (now one of my very favorite authors), plus “Peter Pan,” “The Children of Green Knowe,” “Mary Poppins,” “The Borrowers,” “A Bear Called Paddington,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the lovely and bucolic “Wind in the Willows” and “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” (a true masterpiece on many levels).

Of all I’ve read Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth” has had the most profound effect. Over the decades it has been favorably compared to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” However, the work it most closely resembles is L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” Like Dorothy, Milo in “Tollbooth” is a child removed from the boredom of everyday life and transported to a magical land full of wonders, mysteries and dangers. On his trek to find his way home he meets a score of memorable characters – most notably the clock dog Tock. Milo and Dorothy are cousins of a sort; they both discover that there’s no place like home and that home is a place filled with wonders and magic if only you open yourself up to experience them.

Claims have been made that Juster’s wordplay and puns are too advanced for younger readers. So what? George Bernard Shaw once said: “Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself,” which is a tenant I hold with. This book’s sophistication simply enhances its multigenerational appeal (not unlike all those Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies with classical and pop culture references only adults understood). “Tollbooth” was pure pleasure to read and had me grinning like the Cheshire Cat from beginning to end.

Here is something special from The New Yorker about the books 50th anniversary http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/20... enjoy.
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Quotes Ivan Liked

Norton Juster
“Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ”
Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
tags: time

Reading Progress

11/06/2011 page 70
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Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Edel I must buy this in the new year.

Ivan You will love it.

message 3: by Hayes (new)

Hayes One of my all time favorites!

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Another classic I haven't read.

Ensiform One of my favorites too. Haven't picked it up in over a decade, but remember it vividly.

April I love its clever wordplay.

Adam Burton Hi Ivan,
Thanks for your comments! I found it interesting how you compared this book to the Wizard of Oz, and how Milo's and Dorothy's journeys are so similar. Have you ever done research on these two books before? I ask because I'm planning to write a paper comparing The Phantom Tollbooth and Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and any advice or experience you can share about studying the Phantom Tollbooth would be very helpful. Thanks!

message 8: by Ivan (last edited Mar 18, 2014 01:39AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan Sorry to say I haven't done any research. There is a newly released documentary about the book http://phantomtollboothdoc.com/about/ - I don't know if you could get this from your library or download it. I think what has kept it relevant all these years is that it still challenges the mind, it's fresh and requires thinking. Good luck with your paper.

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