Wednesday, October 05, 2016

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

If you're a Harry Potter fan, you've inevitably scoured the internet looking for lists of things to read after HP.  A book that consistently comes up is this classic (published in 1961!!) early children's chapter book (reading level 6.3). I'm not going to lie to you, but I've taken this book out of the library three times. Before last Saturday, I had never gotten further than three pages in.

But it kept coming up, so on Saturday, I was in the car for hours and hours and I packed nothing except this book. Dr. BB listened to dreary Nick Cave and I read this book.

And I didn't love it. I kept nodding off. From Dixon, Illinois until the World's Largest Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa, I was totally asleep. 

But then chapter six happened. And the book started getting good. I started reading lines out loud to Dr. BB. Soon I was reading entire paragraphs and then an entire chapter. The word play was amazing. The scenarios were imaginative. The illustrations are perfect complements to the prose. I was laughing and chuckling.

I'm not sure I'd really recommend this book. It was a slog to get to the good parts and the ending was much too moralistic and preachy for me. But I'm not sure I wouldn't recommend it, either. The playfulness of the language was amazing and the setting was described so vividly I felt like I was there.

I'm not going to put this on the list of Books I Must Buy for My Nieces and Nephews, but if told me they were reading it, I would love to hear their thoughts on it.

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