Marshmallow reviews The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

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 reviews The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.
Marshmallow reviews The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

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 is reading The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.
Marshmallow is reading The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

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%.

Marshmallow rates The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, 100%.
Marshmallow rates The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, 100%.

Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

Today Marshmallow reviews the epistolary novel Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel of Letters by Mark Dunn, a book recommended to her by her school teacher.

Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
Marshmallow reviews Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like books about free speech or books about fighting against suppression, or alternatively if you like playing with letters and thinking about language, then this might be the book for you. 

Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): Ella Minnow Pea lives on the fictional island of Nollop, which is home to Nevin Nollop, who is the supposed creator of the famous sentence, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, a sentence that contains all letters of the English alphabet. This sentence is on a memorial statue of Nevin Nollop in the island.

The people of Nollop think very highly of Mr. Nollop, so when the letters of the sentence on the memorial statue start to fall off, the Council says that it is Mr. Nollop who has spoken from beyond the grave. They claim that it is Mr. Nollop’s will that people stop using the letters that have fallen. So you can’t use words, or read books, or write words that have the letters that have fallen. Even if you use them by mistake, you are still punished. For the first offense, you are scolded publicly. For your second offense, you get lashing or stocks, the violator can choose. A third offense is punished by banishment, and if the violator refuses, death. You can see how this would make things difficult! As the story progresses, things get more and more complicated. 

Marshmallow is reading Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.
Marshmallow is reading Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Marshmallow’s Review: I think that Ella Minnow Pea is a great book for kids eight and up because it has a well-written plot and developed characters. I say eight and up, because the plot is a bit complicated, so younger bunnies might have a harder time trying to understand what is happening.

This is especially true since Ella Minnow Pea is written in letters, like the book To Night Owl From Dogfish, which I reviewed before for this blog. It is interesting to read a book written in letters, because then you can see multiple people’s views, especially if they write in different styles.

Still if little bunnies want to read Ella Minnow Pea, they can read with their parents. This way if the younger ones don’t understand something, they can ask their parents. This can also help open up some of the important themes of the book.

The main theme in Ella Minnow Pea is freedom of speech because the Council is trying to have everyone stop using the words that fell from the statue. Once they lose the letter “D” they even change the names of the days, with Sunday becoming “Satto-gatto” for example. The book is about the importance of speech and language and how important it is for these to be free. In the end it is language (and people’s determination of course!) that saves the world.

Marshmallow’s Rating: 100%.

Marshmallow rates Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn 100%.
Marshmallow rates Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn 100%.