This book takes the protagonist, Milo on a journey to show him how amazing life is, due to his theory that life is nothing but boring and depressing. Because of Milo’s theory, Juster creates a surreal and fantastical world that Milo becomes lost in. Through Juster’s description and development of this unrealistic world, the moral of the story is found. I love the fact that the moral behind the book is realizing the vast array of color we have within our lives rather than a humdrum, solid grey, meaning, our lives are filled with excitement and beauty that we should never take for granted or overlook.
Juster’s use of play on words (e. g. the whether man), a kingdom of numbers feuding against a kingdom of letters, the journey to find Rhyme and Reason (women rather than the abstract ideas), and the various perspectives that can be taken upon one thing are poignant for a juvenile book. I have read this book four times and every time I read it I learn something new. I enjoy the use of play on words within this book, because it gives the book a sense of humor that adults and somewhat complex thinkers can enjoy.
I like the concept of conflict between numbers and letters, because within our everyday lives we are using both. To think that they are fighting over which one is more important is humorous but also thought provoking. In the book, Juster names many characters by their role or intent within the book. Milo is on a journey to find Rhyme and Reason so that peace may be restored to the Kingdom of Wisdom. I think that though simplistic, Juster’s choice of naming was the best decision.
Not everything has to be complex and that is what I like about The Phantom Tollbooth. It genuinely has the best of both worlds. It gives readers of all ages something to laugh and think about. I have learned that my life is precious, even the “simplest” moments and though that wasn’t a new and sudden epiphany, it was and always is a great reminder to not take the precious gift of life for granted. I love this book, additionally, because of it’s vivid use of surrealism and imagery.
Despite the lack of illustrations within the book, Juster’s words paint a phenomenal picture that one illustration could never, in my opinion, do justice to. The imagination that Juster stimulates within all of his readers within The Phantom Tollbooth creates paintings that are meant to be recreated and changed every time we read the book. Perhaps, that is my most favorite thing about this childhood book, it’s ability to create a different and unique world that I suddenly become a part of every single time I read it.