Drew's Reviews > The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
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's review
Feb 19, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 1998

I've always read ravenously, but when I was younger, I didn't really understand the idea of going out and trying to find good books to read. Instead, I'd read the handful of books I had over and over again. Not that I only had a handful. At the head of my bed, there was a compartment maybe two feet wide, one foot deep, and one and a half tall, which was always full of books.* I'd stuff it so tight some of the books would come out warped, and I vaguely remember once having trouble getting any of the books out, so snugly were they crammed. At any rate, these were the books I'd read over and over again.

I also didn't discriminate much as far as quality. Pretty much any book with lots of words was automatically good, fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, manuals for computer programs, I would seriously read anything that was in the house. (And yet I'd never read anything I was supposed to read for school, nor would I ever go to the public library, nor even Barnes and Noble, where my mother worked.)

Despite that, there were a couple books that were perennial favorites. This was one of them. I didn't really identify with Milo's nihilism, nor with Tock (although I do love automobile rides), nor with the ridiculous Humbug, but I did like them all to some degree. And some of the concepts - the dude who's the .58 in an American family's 2.58 kids, who is the only member of the family who can drive half a car; the guy who conducts the orchestra that creates color; the pleasant, urbane, demon with no face (The Terrible Trivium?) - just about short-circuited my ten-year-old brain. In a good way.

*Sometime around high school, most of that area was filled by a stereo. But I still managed to pack books in on top of it.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Drew Funny story: they just came out with a spiffy new hardcover edition, I'm guessing it's a 50th anniversary thing, and my mother got me a copy. I was like thanks, and yes, I do love it, but I've probably read it 25 times; at this point it's pretty much memorized. Although looking at my review, it seems like I don't have it committed to memory as well as I thought.

message 2: by Mariel (last edited Feb 19, 2012 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mariel I was so desperate for more stories that I'd read the stories in school issued text books.

The terrible trivium is my long lost pal.

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio The movie is a fond childhood memory, too.

Drew I'd read every word on a box of cereal, even though I'd been eating the same cereal from the same type of box for weeks on end. Whenever the design on a box changed, it would make my day.

...Also, the half-boy is .58! Damn! Got to edit that.

Richard I think I need to read this. What a good recollection of your childhood. You describe not only things that happened, but the eccentricity of a child who did not realize at the time that he was eccentric!

Drew You should! It's very quick.

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