The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster

I needed something to listen to at work a couple of weeks back, and the only thing I could find from the library's collection was the audio version of the children's classic, The Phantom Tollbooth. It's been a few years since I read this with my kids, so I figured it was worth a shot. The story of bored (and boring) Milo receiving a magic Tollbooth that transports him to a magic kingdom where he goes on an adventure to restore Rhyme and Reason to their rightful places has long been a favorite of mine.

It wasn't a bad use of time, but was a little disappointing. A lot of the word play needs to be read, not heard -- having to over-pronounce the "h" in "whether man" to make it the joke land just doesn't work. I could list other examples, but that'll do.


Still, most of the magic is there, you still get the overall feel of the book, the strange adventure that Milo, Tock and the Humbug have is intact, it's just missing some of the details.


Really, any version of The Phantom Tollbooth that doesn't feature the art of Jules Feiffer is missing something -- even the cover of this one was done by someone else! Thankfully, I remembered what most of the pictures looked like and could supply them in the right spot. But it's just not the same.


Basically, I guess I'm saying any audio-only production of this novel is hobbled out of the gate. Which is nothing against Norman Dietz's work -- he did fine, nothing spectacular, but nothing detrimental, either. Good, capable, entertaining narration -- but it's just a bad book to try to do this with, I think. (that said, apparently David Hyde Pierce did an audiobook recording of it, too -- and I will grab that if I can).


If you've read it before -- this will scratch the re-read itch if you have it. It might be a good way to entertain the kids on a road trip. But this shouldn't be anyone's initial exposure to the story -- get the book. Really. I'm giving it 4 Stars for sentiment's sake -- and Juster's words/story.