Today Marshmallow writes about The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. Marshmallow read the 50th Anniversary Edition of this 1961 classic.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you enjoy reading classics or appreciate books that make you think, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Milo is a boy who doesn’t want to do anything. He wants to be in school when he isn’t; when he is in school, he wants to be out of it. Then one day, he receives a large package. Inside is a small tollbooth. As he has nothing to do, he starts to play with the tollbooth and finds himself in a strange land when he drives his toy car through it. Luckily, the tollbooth came with a map of this place, and he was driving around in a small motorized car.
As he drives around in this new land, he goes to many strange places. In one place, he becomes friends with a literal watchdog, Tock, who is a dog with a clock on his side. He goes to the kingdom of Dictionopolis where he meets strange people and learns that Rhyme and Reason, two princesses, have been locked away in a Castle in the Air, because the king of Dictionopolis, Azaz the Unabridged, and the king of Digitopolis, the Mathemagician, who also happens to be Azaz’s brother, disliked one of their verdicts. The Princess of Pure Reason and the Princess of Sweet Rhyme were asked by Azaz the Unabridged and the Mathemagician whether numbers or letters were more important. When Rhyme and Reason said that both were equally important, the two kings banished the princesses.
Milo and Tock, accompanied by the Humbug, who was assigned to be their guide by Azaz, must go and rescue the two princesses. But unfortunately, demons and monsters guard the Castle in the Air. Milo, Tock, and the Humbug will need to journey across the “Land Beyond”, the name of the place Milo is in, to return Rhyme and Reason to their land.
Marshmallow’s Review: The Phantom Tollbooth is a great read, especially if you like language and wordplay. I really like how the author Norton Juster plays with words, like how one character is a watchdog, that means he is a dog with a watch in its side. Another character, the Which, is sort of like a witch, her real name being Faintly Macabre, meaning faintly gruesome, grim, morbid, hideous, or horrific.
I think that the wordplay must be a very big part of why this book is so widely read. Another reason might be because it is good for all ages, not too complicated or scary, though some of the wordplay might not make sense for younger readers. (I did not get most of them when I read it years ago.) I would highly recommend this book to everyone. In fact, I think I will suggest Caramel to read it too, soon.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.