Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

When Milo finds an odd, “build it yourself” tollbooth in his home, he’s not entirely prepared for the adventure it takes him on (although he handles himself exceptionally well!), or the people he meets. Nor is he entirely prepared for the princess-saving quest he volunteers for.

The Phantom Tollbooth is the whimsy and nonsensical charm and color of Alice in Wonderland, but it has a plot and a direction. A lot of the time the adventures Milo has, or the people he meets, makes a total of zero sense. Sometimes you sit back and just go, “what did I just read?”

But it works. The color and charm of the story makes the nonsense make sense (now who’s not making sense??). Milo explores the world and begins to see that something is amiss, and he goes off on a quest to fix it, while seeing unique lands and people all over in the meanwhile.

All of the characters are different from each other, and they all have their own quirks and charms that may or may not make sense, but Milo (and readers) just kind of learn to go with it. It’s quite adorable to meet so many different characters. No two are really alike, so you get something new each time.

But my favorite part of the book was the play on words that filled the pages. Nearly everywhere the author played tricks with words and what they meant, and every time it was funny and made me grin. It’s exceptionally clever, and provides another layer of whimsy to the world Milo explores.


There was nothing major to note, really, that could be considered questionable. There may have been very minor instances of violence, but I don’t recall anything that would make readers uneasy. Demons do play a part in this book, as the villains, however (but even they aren’t written to be too twisted/evil).

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