“You must never feel badly about making mistakes,” explained Reason quietly, “as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For as you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”
I remember the day my year five teacher started reading The Phantom Tollbooth to us. It was a Wednesday, around Easter-time. I remember being totally captivated by Milo’s adventures. But, until I picked the book up recently, I had no recollection of the plot. All I could recall was Milo’s car, the tollbooth, and a watchdog named Tock.
The plot is this: When bored young Milo receives a magic tollbooth as a gift, he drives through it in his toy car and is transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom. There he is sent on a quest to restore to the kingdom its exiled princesses, Rhyme and Reason.
Needless to say that upon rereading this book, I was instantly captivated all over again. It is a fast-paced story with short chapters; easy to tumble into and difficult to climb out of. The imagery is superb, yet simply drawn. The humour is light and clever, focusing mostly on word play, which is delightful!
It must be said though that none of the characters felt very fleshed out. Conversations between them go on for pages without any real character development happening. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the simplistic style in which it was written does not account for much character development, I just prefer a little more to the characters I’m supposed to be identifying with. The Little Prince does this simplistic style well, while still maintaining complex characters.
But I digress – I dislike comparing books to one another. The Phantom Tollbooth is not The Little Prince. It is neither “better” or “worse” than The Little Prince. They are simply two different stories.
The Phantom Tollbooth is the story Norton Juster wanted to tell, and that is all that matters. I find often that these days we focus far too much on individual opinion, rather than the vision the author has brought to the page. All stories have merit, for all stories take time and effort!
You can find links to buy The Phantom Tollbooth at GoodReads!