By Norton Juster
Alfred A. Knopf, $29.99, 320 pages
Norton Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth, particularly with Jules Feiffer’s illustrations, is a classic of children’s literature. The story recounts the adventures of Milo and people he meets when he drives his toy car through a tollbooth that he finds has been mysteriously delivered to his house one afternoon. 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the book, so this book is timely in its reappearance.
Readers who read and loved the story as children, or who want to read the story to their own children will like the large format as well as the space given to the Feiffer illustrations, which are really an integral part of the book. In this annotated edition, adult readers will also appreciate well-known historian and critic Leonard Martin’s extensive introduction about Juster, Feiffer, and the circumstances that surrounded the creation of the novel. The least successful part of this edition of the book is the annotations. The aim of this series is to provide annotations to enrich the reading experience for the general reading public. Many of Martin’s annotations seemed slightly obvious or irrelevant for an attentive, adult reader. An intellectual child, particularly one who is slightly older may enjoy the sense of additional information contained in the notes.