Dear Mr. Juster,
In first grade, I was looking for an interesting book to read. My teacher wanted me to find one that was could challenge me, so I went to the “big kids” reading section of our library. Searching through the books, I found one that was plain covered, but the name struck me as interesting. It was called The Phantom Tollbooth. I had thought phantom was synonymous with monster at the time, as in Phantom of the Opera (thought I had no idea what that was either), and I had not really ever known what a tollbooth was. I grabbed the book and never looked back.
I may have dramatized the ending of this event, but The Phantom Tollbooth really did have a tremendous impact on me. In comparison to other books that I have read, none are as satisfying as yours. Even years later, whenever I feel bored, I think of Milo and how he sat around all day being bored, doing nothing, and wasting away my day. It always brings me back to all the times I read your book. Sometimes, still, I wish I could be able to find my own phantom tollbooth and escape to the new and exciting world that Milo experienced.
This book has taught me the importance of getting along with people and how to make better decisions so that I never end up like King Azaz and the Mathemagician, who are always sending disagreeing and sending the people who can help them away. Even learning these things makes me want to escape to a different world every once and a while. Your book always helps me do just that. That secret escape has been around since I was nine years old, and of course, is still with me today at sixteen years of age. I still pretend, as I have with many other books I read, that there is no author, only the characters that are living out their lives. I believe that anytime the characters could take a sudden turn for the worse or the better. I also seem to become very emotionally attached to well written characters; they often invade my dreams. Milo is a perfect example of this. When I first read the book, my imagination was as its primes. I was literally living every moment with Milo; his life was my life. Of course, I cannot forget Tock who also has made it into a few of my dreams.
Since I was never able to find myself a real phantom tollbooth (though I tried), I resorted to explaining, in great details, the book to some of my closest friends, so we could have a good round of “make believe”. I almost always portrayed the part of Milo, though he was a boy, or sometimes either Princess Rhyme or Reason, depending on what part of the book we were acting out. All my life, this book has been there for me to turn to when I need a place to get away from my own life. I knew things would be different without this experience because the standards of books I read would not be as high. Thank you so much for bringing this book into my life.