Friday, September 7, 2012
The Phantom Tollbooth - by Norton Juster
Young Milo is always bored, but by passing through a mysterious tollbooth in his toy car, he is sent on a quest to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason from the Castle in the Sky. He is joined on his adventure by Tock the watchdog, and Humbug. The three meet a variety of other eccentric and strange characters along the way. Finding the librarian in the book wasn't difficult, even though the word is never actually used. But what else might you call the Soundkeeper, the guardian of all noises ever made - a cataloger indeed! She tends to the vault "with long lines of file drawers and storage bins" arranged by date, and then categorized, and subcategorized alphabetically. For our hero's "Hello" is found "under G for greetings, then under M for Milo."
I watched the movie that this based on this book a few years ago. I remember it as a very groovy '70s-type journey through a magical world. As is so often the case, I very much wished I had read the book first. Having the movie images in my head seemed counter to the message of the story - to imagine, and think for yourself.
This classic in children's literature is a playful read. I loved the constant word play, and enjoyed watching Milo develop as a character.