The Phantom Tollbooth is a cute read for kids. I’m not sure if I’d classify this as Young Adult (YA) or Middle Grade (MG), because I am horrible with education and ages for word-smithing fluency. So much of it I found myself chuckling at, in how Juster was able to set up a certain turn of words as a joke. Here’s a couple instances of how he illustrates how to and how to to use words and phrases:
- “For always remember that while it is wrong to use too few, it is often far worse to use too many.”
- ” ‘I never knew words could be so confusing,” Milo said to Tock as he bent down to scratch the dog’s ear. ‘Only when you use a lot to say a little,’ said Tock.”
- The kings Dictionopolis and Digitopolis were brothers who fought a lot. Whenever there were fights, they had their disputes settled by the twin sisters of Rhyme and Reason, who lived in the kingdom of Wisdom.
- There’s also a car that requires you to be quiet because “it goes without saying…”
- People make speeches before dining, and when Milo says no food items in his speech, later regrets it, not realizing he must “eat his words.”
- “In this box are all the words I know… All you just learn to do is use them well and in the right places.”
Even though I was reading this on a Kindle, the images (though converted to black and white) helped to throw a visual out here and there that helped move the story along. The downside of reading it on a Kindle was that the last 10% of the Kindle version was all people that were espousing and singing the praises of a book I had just finished! Didn’t really find that useful, relevant, or helpful.
As an adult, I got through this in just a few hours (2-3 hours of dedicated reading time). As a teen, probably a bit faster, and as a YA maybe tack on another hour or so if you really wanna get all the puns out of it. No matter how you slice it though, it’s definitely worth the time to read it in my opinion.