Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review: "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster

Milo comes home from school one day to find a tollbooth in his room.  Not knowing what else one could possible do with a tollbooth, he gets in his toy car and drive through it....  and this leads to a magical adventure full of curious characters, princesses that need rescuing and ending the war between two leaders.  This is a highly imaginative tale that has delighted readers for over 50 years.

Small confession:  I had never read this before.  Ever.  I have a vague recollection of watching a movie version?  Or was there a TV series based on this book?  I don't really remember.  Besides, my memory ends when he goes through the tollbooth.  I have always wondered why that was - why couldn't I remember what happens on the other side of the tollbooth?  I think I've got it now, or at least a pretty good idea.

I have always been a very literal person.  I've learned quite a bit about when to be literal and when not to be so much, but I think I had a lot of trouble with this when I was younger.  Therefore, I think that even if I saw this on TV or as a movie (or maybe because of this) I didn't understand the puns and word play that is all over this book.  Now, of course, I see its brilliance and the humor - it really is fantastic.  But I think that then, probably not so much.

I think this is perfect for older middle grade readers or younger teens... unless this is being used as a read aloud and the adult is there to explain any phrases or jokes that could be missed by a younger reader/listener.  I'm really glad I finally read this - it is a treasure of the English language!

The Phantom Tollbooth- 50th Anniversary Edition
by Norton Juster
Knopf, 2011.  First published 1961
279 pages
Source:  Copy provided by the publisher



Etudesque said...

Confession - I've never read this either! Welp, time to check it out :)

looloolooweez said...

I'm so glad you liked this one. I loved it when I was a kid because it was my first introduction to the idea that puns/wordplay can be used for humor in books -- before this everything I'd read had been either serious or of the slapstick sort of humor. It's hard to believe it is over 50 years old!

Erin said...

I only read this one for the first time a few years ago. I don't think I'd have appreciated it as much as a kid, because you're right -- there's so much fun word play! I really enjoyed it as an adult, and I'm glad you did too.

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