October 13, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth + Liberal Arts

Some of our favorite children's book authors have just released new titles, and I blogged about it over at Little Lamb Books this morning.  But I wanted to especially highlight here the 50th Anniversary of the publishing of perhaps the best work of children's fantasy in America, The Phantom Tollbooth.  (I really can't think of anything better that's American.)  New Yorker critic Adam Gopnik discusses this book at length in the more recent issue.  Besides being funny and imaginative, and tapping into the mindset of a generation of children (Milo, the hero, is bored; so were our parents, so we were, so are our children), Milo find out what it means to  really learn:
In The Phantom Tollbooth, the real moral sin is knowing too much about one thing: the Mathemagician who obsesses over quantities; the unabridged Azaz who lives off his own words. Against those who worried that the liberal arts could not help us “win the future,” Juster argued for the love of knowledge, and against narrow specialization. The Phantom Tollbooth was for learning, against usefulness. “Many of the things I’m supposed to know seem so useless that I can’t see the purpose in learning them at all,” Milo complains to Rhyme and Reason. They don’t tell him to listen to his inner spirit, or trust the Force. Instead, Reason says, “You may not see it now, but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else. . . . Whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer.”

Read the whole article here. Then check out more on The Phantom Tollbooth and other titles over at LLB.


  1. Maggie! I can't wait to show this to my Dad! He LOVES this book!! :) Hope you are well!

    Love, Bethi

  2. That's right! I remember him talking about it in drama class. how fun!

  3. They're making a documentary about the book with Norton and Jules. Thought you would be interested! You can see it here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/phantomtollbooth/the-phantom-tollbooth-turns-50-a-documentary?ref=category.