“Lit” Pick of the Week: “The Phantom Tollbooth” (Norton Juster)

Radar is committed to all forms of art and entertainment and as such, will pick one book as a reading recommendation every week. This week Radar’s “Lit” pick is “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster

In 1960, architect Norton Juster received a grant to write a children’s book based on cities and buildings, but instead wrote something entirely different that would inspire him to write the architecture book.

Courtesy of Random House

However the story that came into fruition, “The Phantom Tollbooth,” is an imaginative narrative about a boy named Milo and his (literal) watchdog companion Tock as they explore the vast and bizarre world of the Kingdom of Wisdom on the quest for the princesses Rhyme and Reason. In this instance, the names are an amusing wordplay referencing the two princesses Milo must rescue and also the unbalanced and out of whack world he must traverse in. This wordplay becomes the focal point as a funny, witty and brilliant recurring theme throughout the book.

The wordplay is just one of the few things that makes Juster’s book an endearing read throughout as it rivals other classic works such as C. S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” and Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” And since its publication in 1961, “The Phantom Tollbooth” has become a classic children’s book that, through Milo and Tock’s vividly imaginative adventures, subtly teaches the importance of education and finding balance within one’s self. It’s a tale whose themes appeal to readers young and old and that’s why Juster’s wacky story is our “Lit” Pick of the Week.

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