This post is for ABC Wednesday‘s letter P where I bring you ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ and also my contribution to dVerse’s poetics this week as well as for Ultimate Blog Challenge – April 2018. – day 29! (Days 27 and 28 will come in tomorrow!!)
‘The Phantom Tollbooth‘ by Norton Juster
This was a book I first read a few years ago, after I moved to the States. This was shortly after I finished reading ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ – while I do not recall if I started reading it because of ‘Haroun…’ or because my son started reading it, I am glad I did. In the manner of books that are wonderful, this book is a treat to read – for both adults and children. Delightful characters, wonderful wordplay, and playful puns – all of these add up to create this book.
Here are a few interesting facts I learned from across the internet as I researched to share some of them with you:
- The parallels: In my post about ‘Haroun….’, I mention the parallels noticed among the books – Haroun, Alice, and The Phantom Tollbooth, among others. But Juster’s inspiration for the book was drawn from his father’s love of wordplay and puns, and from the curious minds of young boys who ask too many questions. In an article online, it was noted that Juster had not even read ‘Alice…’ prior to writing the book. (while ‘Haroun…’ was written later!). Even so, readers love to see these parallels, just like I did as I read the books, and it is amazing how human brains across worlds and times work to produce these totally wondrous books that seem to be
- The illustrations: The story of how the illustrations for the book came to life is truly cool. Jules Feiffer (the illustrator for this book) happened to live in the same building as Norton Juster, and drawn by curiosity over all the pacing of his upstairs neighbor, simply had to check on him to see what it was all about. When the pacing Juster explained the reason – he was working on a book (it was supposed to be about cities – for which he had a grant; but he was unable to write anything about cities for kids, and started working on Milo’s story instead — and there you have it, one fact within another for you), Feiffer asked to see the manuscript. He was soon drawn (pun intended) into drawing illustrations and you know how it ends….
- The author: Norton Juster is famously known as the author of children’s books, notably the one I have featured here, as well as others including ‘The Dot, and the Line’, but he is an architect by profession (and hence the grant to write a children’s book about cities)… And in an interview with ‘The Independent’, he says of the book – “I started thinking about it and I came to the conclusion that this kid had gone into a world where everything was correct but nothing was right. That was a feeling I understood.”
So, there you have it, a little insight into a book that overflows with wordplay and puns, and tons of totally quotable quotes (That will be a post for another day indeed!)
For dVerse Poetics, here is my attempt (The challenge is to write a poem using the first person (I) and focusing on one body part or trait you have inherited):
voices and more
hello, i said
as i picked up the phone
the voice on the other side –
she spoke to my mom;
asked ‘how fares vidya’
and i replied,
this is her speaking
she laughed, amazed
said if voices could have twins
your’s and your mom’s are
in my niece,
they see me.
my daughter –
a reflection of
my brother’s nature,
a mix-up of grandparents
her brother, aka my son
has his (grand)pa’s nose;
and i pride myself to say
he also has
a bit of his mom
that calm at the roiling sea
that bit i got from my dad, you see!
Q to the reader: So, have you read ‘The Phantom Tollbooth’ or the books I mention it parallels? Do let me know your thoughts on the post or any of these books that you have read
Signing off on Day 29 for the #UltimateBlogChallenge for April 2018.