“Mom, Today we Jumped to Conclusions.” Says my son. I can’t help but grin. I have finally gotten him into my all time favorite book “The Phantom Toll Booth” By Norton Jester. I have been trying to get him to read it for years. I even tried to read it as a read aloud and it just fell flat. We only ever got to chapter 2 aptly named the “doldrums” and stopped.
Since we have been homeschooling, I was looking for some books to do literature studies on. I started by searching our bookshelves for literature that won awards. It turns out we have several. Then I moved to the ones I have not had success getting him to read. (actually I did this for both of my children.) At the top of that list for me was The Phantom Tollbooth.
I spent some time on-line and finally found a site that gave me a fabulous on-line guide to the book. What you have to understand about the Phantom Tollbooth is that the entire book is an exploration of the English Language. Most of the book is a play on words. For instance, the main character Milo meets a Watch dog. He is actually a dog with a watch for a body. Also on the list of interesting characters are the “Whether” man, the “Which,” the spelling bee, the Humbug and many more. The literature guide takes the reader through all sorts of wonderful activities My favorite of these is making a “chain of events” which is a paper chain on which the reader writes down the events of the story.
My son is so excited now. Every chapter he is eager to share with me what is going on. When I say aren’t you glad I made you read this book. He smiles and says “Thanks for getting me past the doldrums.”
Thank you Norton Juster for writing this wonderful book. Hopefully my son will remember it as fondly as I do and want to share it with his kids in the future. Or maybe as a grandma I can insist.