Did you ever read a book when you were younger, like grade school young, that really stood out? That everyone once a while you’d think of and go “Golly, remember _______________?"
I do that all of the time.
One of those that I always come back to is A Wrinkle in Time, in fact, I’m committing that to memory for a reread ASAP.
But no, this time it was The Phantom Tollbooth. I do not know why it even popped into my head, but when it did, it would not leave. Thusly, I recently revisited Milo, Tock and the Humbug.
So this book is basically, and I italicize because this is a VERY basic explanation, about a young boy who finds everything very dull. Milo, a young chap, suffers from laziness and boredom. He takes a lot of things in his life for granted and can’t seem to get excited about any of it. One day a package arrives in him room, a tollbooth. So, he takes a little toy car and goes through… entering into a whirlwind world, not much unlike Alice’s fall through the Rabbit Hole.
Milo meets many characters in his attempt to free two lovely princesses, Rhyme and Reason, from their prison, the castle in the sky. He travels from Dictionopolis, a land all about the importance of words – run by King Azaz the Unabridged – to Digitopolis, a land of numbers – run by King Azaz’s brother, the Mathamagician. Milo is accompanied on his journey with two interesting characters; Tock, a ticking literal Watch Dog, who although makes a ticking noise was mistakenly named Tock at birth.. his ‘tocking’ brother named Tick, apparently quite an embarrassment for the Watchdog Family.
His other companion is the Humbug, a beetlelike insect in a suit.
Milo meets the Humbug in a marketplace where words are being bought and sold and traded. Milo is peaking with the Spelling Bee, a bee who can spell nearly everything, when the Humbug arrives.
The quirky use of word play keeps this book entertaining page after page. The ridiculousness of some of the instances in it will make you laugh out loud, or at least they did for me. Milo’s adventure is as enthralling for me as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which is saying a lot because that’s one of my favorites… But I think, can’t be completely sure, that Tollbooth wasn’t written under the influence of opiates.
Don’t do drugs, kids.
If you want a quick, whimsical read, pick up a copy of this little gem. If you have children that haven’t read this … hit them.
No, don’t really. Child abuse = BAD.
But do make them read it. I’d be very surprised if they dislike it.
I’m told they made a movie of this, and upon further research I see it was filmed in 1970. I bet it’s a doozy. I think this could TOTALLY be redone for a New Age Young Audience… But half of the allusions Juster makes need to actually be read, not seen. But, I’m sure there would be a way to combine both.
Anyway, the moral of all this: Read it. If you have, re read it.
On to reading!