Review of "The Phantom Tollbooth"

Fun for kids, language mastery for adults.

"The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster, ISBN 978-0-375-98530-0

One of my pleasures reading books in non-native language as an adult, is discovering children's classics from other countries. There are quite a few surprises. For example, "Wizard of Oz" has been translated in Soviet Union into Russian language under title "Emerald City's Wizard" (1939). Then unrestricted by copyrights, 5 sequels appeared written by the same author. The sequels had more adventures in the land of Oz, even including an alien invasion.

On the other hand, "Alice in Wonderland", and recently "The Phantom Tollbooth" are a great pleasure to read in English. If the former is mostly absurd tales, the later is a great exploration of the literal meaning of words. For example, jumping to Conclusions will literally translate you to the island called Conclusions. It will take a while to work your way back to solid land from there. The book is full of funny situations teaching the kids to stay our of Doldrums, search for Rhyme and Reason, and avoid Trivium.

I read the 50 year anniversary edition of the book, which as the last chapter had several famous authors discuss their discovery of "The Phantom Tollbooth". For example, Suzanne Collins, the author of "The Hunger Games" had to make up another adventure for Milo, watch dog named Tock (who ticks) and Humbug. Reading her "missing chapter" in front of the middle school class was the beginning of great career.