Children’s fantasy book provides inspiration for young and old alike
In March, I was a literary guest at the sci-fi convention, Coast Con, in Biloxi, MS. At the convention I picked up a copy of the delightful children’s book The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. The story is of Milo, a bored young boy who one day receives a gift in the form of a tollbooth. Using the tollbooth, he is transported to the Kingdom of Wisdom where he takes part in an adventure rescuing twin princesses, Rhyme and Reason, from the Castle in the Air. Juster uses English idioms and common phrases in a literal sense, adding a quirky charm to this fast paced book. While reading the book, I thought about how Milo learns to use his imagination and discovers that true magic exists all around him when he takes the time to look. As a dark fantasy author, I too use my imagination to create characters for my stories and novels as well as to enjoy the world around me for what it is and what it has to show me.
How many of us take the time to enjoy flowers in a garden or a gnarled, majestic oak tree in the backyard? How many of us take the time to travel to distant lands and cities to explore their customs, food, and history? I often find many people ready to throw off their imagination and settle into an adult life. Too often we forget what made us laugh when we were six or seven, when the world was fresh, new, and filled with wonder. In reading about Milo and his magical friends traveling through the Kingdom of Wisdom, I smiled thinking about the similar emotions I felt when reading Harry Potter, or Alice in Wonderland, or even while playing the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) World of Warcraft.
Sometimes we need our imagination to relieve us of our daily stresses and frustrations; to take a step back from this world and rediscover our childhood past. In rescuing the princesses, Milo understands that he has his imagination to lead him through future journeys. After finishing this book, I was glad I still had mine.