Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Wonder of Words -- "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster

 Several years ago, The Phantom Toolbooth, by Norton Juster, was a read-aloud in our homeschool.  My son and I found it to be a delightful story.  Much of the book is made up of plays on words . . . and there is an underlying plot, where a boy travels on a quest to bring "rhyme and reason" (two princesses) back to the kingdom.

     It almost seems to be an "Alice in Wonderland" type of story, because the boy travels to some very unusual places, meeting with a whole cast of interesting characters.  He is accompanied, for most of his journey, by a dog named "Tock," who keeps time by carrying a huge clock that is built into his side.

     Although this is a children's book, as an adult I've found it very enjoyable to read-- and have recently been reading it through a second time-- just for myself, and just for fun.

     If you read this story, here are just a few of the characters you will encounter:  The Spelling Bee (a giant bee who is always spelling things), the "Which" (whose job had formerly been to choose words), Chroma the Great, conductor of color (who directs an orchestra which plays music and simultaneously causes the colors to come into the world, at dawn).  There are many more characters, and intriguing events, in this book-- and it is highly recommended as either a read-aloud or a read-to-yourself book, that will enliven the imagination and take its readers on an enchanting adventure.

     And if my opinion could use some bolstering, here is a quote from the New York Times, that says what I've been trying to say so far in this post:
     "Most books advertised for 'readers of all ages' fail to keep their promise.  But Norton Juster's amazing fantasy has something wonderful for anybody old enough to relish the allegorical wisdom of Alice in Wonderland and the pointed whimsey of The Wizard of Oz."

     So there you have it -- and I hope you will consider The Phantom Toolbooth as one of your next novels to read; it is surely a "novel" read . . .

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