“What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do” (247). The Phantom Tollbooth is a book that pulls you in, twists you upside down, turns you inside out, spins you around until you don’t know which way is which, and then sets you down somewhere you’ve never been before. Again, I’ve read this book before and now that I’m reading it again, it’s like a trip down memory lane, yada, yada, yada, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it again once I sat down. Unfortunately for me, I was already committed, so I sat down and began to read. And, of course, by the time I finished I was in love with it again.
Meet Milo, a bored child who never knew what he wanted to do. No matter where he was or what he was doing he always wanted to be somewhere else doing something else. But one day when he arrives home from school he finds a large package waiting for him: a tollbooth with a short note saying, “For Milo, who has plenty of time.” So since Milo has nothing better to do he drives through, but on the other side of the tollbooth Milo finds himself in an entirely different place where the King of Words and the King of Numbers are in constant disagreement, Rhyme and Reason have been banished, and jumping to conclusions can be quite dangerous. Before long, Milo, with the help of a ticking watchdog and a Humbug, finds himself committed to rescuing Rhyme and Reason and bringing peace and order to this new world. Along the way Milo will learn a lot of unimportant things and make a lot of important discoveries that will change his life forever.
It’s like Alice and Wonderland meets elementary school. And if you think that’s weird, you’re right. This is a very odd book, and not one that I see everyone enjoying. You have to have an open mind and not mind being occasionally confused. Several times throughout the book someone would say something that would make me stop and think. Sometimes it was simply a new way of saying or looking at something, at other times it gave me a new perspective at why I do what I do, and on several other occasions it made me backtrack a few lines to figure out what was even going on.
On the back of the book (in tiny letters in the lower right-hand corner) it says this book is for “Ages 8-12.” I agree completely (well, mostly) because at that time children are beginning to understand how a word can mean several different things. This is absolutely essential if you want to survive reading The Phantom Tollbooth. I know of few other books that play with words more than this book, and children between the years of 8 and 12 would be able to understand (for the most part) what is gong on while expanding their vocabulary along the way. That being said, I would recommend this book to people much older as well: so long as you can handle regular doses of silliness and nonsense.
As I’m coming up on the end of my 7-day/7-book challenge I’ve noticed something: reading this many books this fast can bring a large sense of accomplishment, but it’s also stressful, exhausting, and just plain tough. As I said before, by the end I loved this book, but there were times when I just didn’t want to deal with it, but I stuck with it anyway. I’ve got one more book, and I then I’m done for now. Thank you to everyone who has been following me on this wild ride of reading. We’re almost through.