Monday, March 10, 2014

"The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster

Sigh.  Either I'm too old for this book, or I'm just not the right audience for it.  I did try to read it once when I was like eleven, and never got into it, so I'm inclined to say I'm just not the right audience.  But so many people (including my husband) rave about this book that I decided I must read it after all.  And it took me a couple of weeks, but I finally finished it!  

I think my problem is that I really don't get into books where Everything Means Represents Something.  Like Pilgrim's Progress -- it's all clever and allegorical, and the story loses me because Everything Means Represents Something.  I'm not even the hugest Narnia fan because sometimes I feel bogged down by trying to figure out all the allegory.  I like three or four of the books quite well, and the rest I just read because I kind of feel I ought to.  

So.  The Phantom Tollbooth is a clever book about a boy named Milo who travels to a fantastical world full of places with names like Ignorance and Wisdom, and with characters named things like Rhyme and Reason and Humbug.  And it kind of drove me nuts.  However, I think my six-year-old is going to find it hilarious, and that's really why I read it -- so he and I could discuss it.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  G.  Squeakily clean, like junior fiction ought to be.

This is my fifth book read and reviewed for The Classics Club and my second for the Mount TBR Challenge.

8 comments:

  1. I've never read this book, though I've heard of it. I had no idea it was like that. Very interesting.

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  2. This book is probably in my top three children's book favourites. I just love it. But I do love books that have meaning. You say you're not fond of books with meaning but reading your posts about LOTR, that book certainly seems to have meaning for you. You are pulling things out of it that I had never thought of! :-)

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    1. Oh, I like books that have meaning! But not where every character or place or whatever Means Something. Maybe I should say represents something? You're right -- "meaning" was not quite the right word. I'll fix that!

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  3. I read this book as a kid too and thought it was really weird. Maybe I should try it again. I know what you mean about stories that are overly-allegorical. I never had a problem with Narnia because to me the allegory was obvious and you could read that without the allegorical knowledge and still enjoy a well-written fantasy story. Other stories can lose me because I'm not sure what they're trying to say and if you can't figure that out it doesn't make any sense.

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    1. This one isn't exactly allegorical -- it's just that it has all these characters that aren't actually people, just a being named Reason that restores reason to the world, etc.

      And you're right -- most of the Narnia books work as just fantasy stories. I think my least favorite is Voyage of the Dawn Treader because I spend too much time trying to figure things out.

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  4. Definitely with you on this one. All of our friends rave and rave about it, but my mom and I were just never able to catch on.

    I'm even one of those who loves allegory. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was even my favorite Narnia book for a very long time! Funny how that works... (or doesn't, as it were.)

    I hope you don't mind that I tagged you back on the Sunflower award! Don't feel obligated to fill it out if you don't want to; I know you've already filled out bunches of them.

    Here's the link:

    http://rubydanderfluff.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-sunflower-blogger-award-another-tag.html

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    1. Okay! I was starting to think there was something wrong with me. Even some of my nieces and nephews love this, and I'm just like, "Well, it's very clever..."

      I think I'll reply to the award in your comments, instead of a whole 'nother post, okay? Thanks!

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