And in the very room to which he sat,
there were books that could take you anywhere ...
Norton Juster The Phantom Tollbooth last page!
It is wonderful to add new books to our library nearly every week but I do worry that some 'classics' might slip off the radar.
One of our splendid teachers recently retired. The Phantom Tollbooth, first published in 1961, was a firm favourite as a class read-aloud. I am sure hundreds of children who were lucky enough to be in her class will fondly remember listening to the joyous, turbulent, exciting, funny, wild story.
When I saw the audio book recently I happily purchased it for our school library. As a bonus this version is read by David Hyde Pierce (Frasier) and he is a splendid narrator. We have a copy of If you give a pig a pancake by Laura Numeroff which he narrates so I knew I would be in safe hands.
I am in awe of this audio book because David has to sustain so many disparate voices. He does this brilliantly. The best voice he saves for right near the end when our intrepid heroes meet the Gelatinous Giant.
I am not going to outline to complex plot for The Phantom Tollbooth. If you click this quote it will take you to a splendid review in the New Yorker which was written to celebrate the 50th Anniversary.
What Milo discovers is that math and literature, Dictionopolis and Digitopolis, should assume their places not under the pentagon of Purpose and Power but under the presidency of Rhyme and Reason. Learning isn’t a set of things that we know but a world that we enter.
I want to focus one chapter which really tickled my funny bone. In Chapter 18 Milo, Tock and the Humbug have almost reached the castle. They are so close the Rhyme and Reason but there is one more obstacle - the senses taker. Listening to the audio book you will at first think this is the census taker. I can't wait to use this in August when we have a census here in Australia :
"I'm the official senses taker and I must have some information before I can take your senses. Now, if you'll just tell me when you were born, where you were born, why you were born, how old you are now, how old you were then, how old you'll be in a little while, your mother's name, your father's name, your aunt's name, your uncle's name, your cousin's name, where you live, how long you've lived there, the schools you've attended, the schools you haven't attended, your telephone number, your shoe size, shirt size, collar size, hat size, and the names and addresses of six people who can verify all this information ... "
There is so much information available to use for your study of this book. Here are a couple of sites to get you started.
Video interview with Norton Juster. This audio book also has a terrific interview at the end of the fourth disk.
Chapter by chapter questions
Plan to pick up the book or the audio book of The Phantom Tollbooth it is indeed a book that can and will take you anywhere!