Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Family Read Aloud)

The Phantom TollboothThe Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Own.  Family Read-Aloud

We enjoyed reading The Phantom Tollbooth as our after-dinner read aloud.  The sustained allegory instructing the reader on the importance of interacting with and learning about the world through words, numbers, sights, sounds, wisdom, and knowledge was a fun story to boot.

The children enjoyed the story and followed the plot pretty well, but I'm not convinced that they understood more than a third of the word play, much of the humor, or completely comprehended the point of the story (although we discussed it at the end, which helped).  Definitely a book that could have waited several more years, and maybe less of a read aloud as a read alone (to catch the word play).  They simply don't have the phrases in their heads that many of the jokes and puns were built upon at these ages.

This is not a subtle book, its agenda is clear (yes, I know I just said the children didn't totally get it, they are 6 and under), one must use the tools in the learning arsenal to gain rhyme and reason (read: wisdom) and defeat the myriad demons wishing to keep you in ignorance. 

Overall, a fun read.  I was laughing throughout and Jason was amused.  I would recommend for 8 and up and maybe 10+ as a read alone.

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  1. the movie was a favorite of mine when i was 6 and i built a diorama of the book when i was 9.

  2. Remember that you can re-read these books again & it will help them "get it" b/c the words/story will be familiar. Plus, sometimes when our littles are little, simply reading aloud so they can hear the words/grammar/structure is the point, though a good story is always helpful! :)

    We've been away from reading alour consitently- back to that today!

  3. Jen, I looked for a movie on Netflix ... no movie :(

    Heather, I know, but there are several books we've read this year (Just So Stories, Jungle Book, and Bambi to name a few) that we want to re-read later. If we re-read everything, we won't get to anything new! And, in my opinion, the word play is often much better "read" than "heard" in this book. We definitely read above their abilities in order to introduce that syntax and good language ... and so Jason & I can discuss the story and dig into literature for analysis (very simple at this age).

  4. We read that a while ago, and David keeps asking to read it again. I told him the same thing--not that it's bad to re-read somethings, but if we always do that, we'll never get to anything new. Ours didn't "get" everything either, but they enjoyed it (as did I), and really seemed to jump on the idea of jumping to conclusions, if you'll pardon my pun. ;-)


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