Book: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date: 1961, this volume has the 1996 Introduction by Maurice Sendak
Summary: On a day when young Milo was suffering from ennui, he discovers in his room a special package containing a tollbooth and a map. With nothing better to do, he assembles the structure according to instructions and drives into an adventure in a strange land with even stranger characters.
Thoughts: It’s becoming apparent to me that the libraries in my small town had hit-and-miss collections for young people and, possibly, a complete moratorium on purchases after about 1955. This fact has odd effects on my reading history. I may be the only woman my age or younger to have read all of the World War II era Cherry Ames novels. But there are big gaps in my reading background that I am only now made aware. I filled one of those gaps during the 48 Hour Book Challenge: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster with illustrations by Jules Feiffer.
The Phantom Tollbooth is a nonsensical, very wise, tribute to the power of words with a passing appreciation for the power of numbers. My favorite character was the oh-so-pleasant, blank-faced, Terrible Trivium, “demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monsters of habit,” who sets our hero and his friends on useless tasks that would take them eight hundred and thirty-seven years to complete. Only after they worked on these tasks for hours did they think to question the endeavors. Terrible Trivium spends too much time in my house.
Appeal: This book has wide appeal with its humor, satire, and delightful illustrations. Don’t wait as long as I did to read it!
Reviews: Reading about this book on book blogs is what finally boosted my awareness to what I had missed. Anastasia at the Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog included The Phantom Tollbooth on her fun list of Retro Reads for a Sizzling Summer, complete with the most appropriate times and places to read those books. Author Isabel Kunkle included The Phantom Tollbooth in a history of her reading published at There’s a Book.
Have you read this book? What did you think?