Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

This book is amazing! Norton Juster must be a genius because this book is fun and can be used as a learning tool at the same time. The book is full of puns and other idioms that are taken too literally. His characters include Tock the watchdog (a dog with a watch for a body), Alec Bings (his family starts at the height they will be and grow downward towards the ground), King Azaz the Unabridged, the Mathemagician, and the princesses Rhyme and Reason (siblings and children of the King of Wisdom). Milo is a bored boy who ends up in this new world and he must try to save Rhyme and Reason in order to bring King Azaz and the Mathemagician to peace again.

I know these are all taken out of context and might be confusing, but here are just a few examples of how great his writing is:

"Oh no," said the little man, "I'm the Whether Man, not the Weather Man, for after all it's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be."

"I am also the judge. Now would you like a long or a short sentence?"
"A short one, if you please," said Milo.
"Good," said the judge, rapping his gavel three times. "I always have trouble remembering the long ones. How about 'I am'? That's the shortest sentence I know."

"Don't be frightened," she laughed. "I'm not a witch- I'm a Which."

"Be very quiet," advised the duke, "for it goes without saying."

I know I am late to see the greatness of this book... but no more. If you haven't read it, please do.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Top Ten Settings In Books

This week The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten meme is to list our personal top ten settings (real or imaginary) in books. This should be easy, as I love settings. To me, they count as a character. Without further ado, my list:

Hogwarts from Harry Potter- Come on, I know it's obvious, but it just HAS to be included. As settings go, it's just about perfect.

Prince Edward Island from Anne of Green Gables- I would love to go here someday. For real. Along those same lines, I would also include the island of Guernsey from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The Lands Beyond in The Phantom Tollbooth- Island of Conclusions. Kingdom of Wisdom. Doldrums. Digitoplois. Now I probably wouldn't want to visit all of this places, but Norton Juster is a genius in my book.

The planets in A Wrinkle in Time- I don't read much sci-fi/fantasy, but I have to admit writers of this genre come up with awesome settings.

Battle School in Ender's Game- Another example of an amazing sci-fi setting.

The Community in The Giver- I had to include a dystopian setting, and this is my favorite dystopian novel.

Republic of Gilead from The Handmaid's Tale- Okay, one more dystopian setting. Both are places I definitely wouldn't want to be, but they are so well written.

Terabithia from Bridge to Terabithia- Lovely, imaginative place.

Salem from all the various books I've read on the Salem witch trials- The Salem witch trials are a subject I find really interesting. I plan on making time to visit the town whenever I make it back East next, even though I'm sure it's mostly a huge tourist trap now.