November 4, 2011


'Phantom Tollbooth' is 50: A children's story with staying power (Sam Adams, 11/02/11, The Inquirer)
Since Juster never set out to write a children's book, he gave little thought to his potential audience, especially with regard to what they might or might not understand. The Phantom Tollbooth is chockablock with wordplay and linguistic gymnastics that are bound to fly over the heads of younger readers: A doctor with a fondness for unpleasant sounds is named Kakophonous A. Discord (the "A" stands for "as loud as possible"). In another scene, Milo steps into a car that will move only if he keeps silent, since this particular vehicle "goes without saying." Leonard Marcus, a children's book historian who wrote the supplemental material for Tollbooth's new annotated edition, contrasts the book with The Cat in the Hat, written four years earlier. "That was a book deliberately written to a word list that educators came up with," he said. "The idea was to encourage reading by stressing the child as little as possible with words they might stumble over. Norton went in the other direction, but he did it naively, without realizing he might encounter flak from those same educators.

Posted by at November 4, 2011 5:36 AM

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