Norton Juster

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Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2013 – The Round-Up

Published January 6, 2014 by bibliobeth

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2013 is over, and so is our Kid-Lit challenge but I think I can speak for us both when I say we both really enjoyed it. Here are the twelve books we read with the links to my reviews! Please check out Chrissi’s blog HERE for her fabulous reviews.

JANUARY – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

FEBRUARY – The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

MARCH – The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

APRIL – Stig of the Dump by Clive King

MAY – Heidi by Johanna Spyri

JUNE – A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

JULY – Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

AUGUST – The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

SEPTEMBER – A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

OCTOBER – Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

NOVEMBER – Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

DECEMBER – The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

So, in the style of the “Talking About…” reviews we normally do, we thought we’d answer a quick few questions about our first year blogging in Kid-Lit.

1) What was your favourite Kid-Lit book of 2013 and why?
BETH: This is tough, there were quite a few that I really enjoyed. I think it would have to be A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, simply because I had forgotten how beautiful the story was.
CHRISSI: This is a tough question. I’m torn between two that I thoroughly enjoyed. They are The Railway Children and A Little Princess. I think I’d have to go for A Little Princess, because it just gave me such a lovely warm feeling when I read it. The writing is beautiful.
2) What was your least favourite Kid-Lit book of 2013 and why?
BETH: There were a couple that also fitted this category! Probably The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley as I found it quite odd, and was bitterly disappointed by the story in general.
CHRISSI: We seem to have similar answers Beth! Mine would be Children Of The New Forest though. I was disappointed with it. I really thought I’d enjoy it! The Water Babies was an odd read.
3) What was the Kid-Lit book that surprised you the most?
BETH: This has to be Northern Lights/The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. I loved the imagination behind this story, and some of his ideas (like having your own personal daemon) just blew me away. That reminds me, I must put the second book on my Coming Up list soon!
CHRISSI: I was surprised at how long Oliver Twist was. I think I’m so used to the film which condensed the book quite a bit.
4) Have you been inspired to read any other books from a Kid-Lit author of 2013?
BETH: I have! After The Little Princess, I decided to look into what else Frances Hodgson Burnett has written, as I know only of this book. I then went on a trip to Persephone Books in London, and found a copy of her novel The Making of A Marchioness, which I am looking forward to getting round to at some point!
CHRISSI: I want to read more of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Other than that I don’t think I’d read books from the same authors, besides Dickens, who I will hopefully read more of on the future. It has made me want to continue this challenge, and also think about other features around children’s literature!
Coming soon…. (Thursday to be exact) Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – The Twelve Titles for 2014!

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit – MARCH READ – The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

Published March 24, 2013 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams…

What did I think?:

This is the third book in my “kid-lit” challenge with my sister ChrissiReads, and one picked by me as I’ve recently heard a lot about it but had never come across it as a child. The illustrations by Jules Feiffer are absolutely beautiful and I was so glad they were on the Kindle edition – they make it a lot easier to picture the weird and wonderful people/creatures that Milo comes across in his adventures. It has been compared to The Wizard of Oz and I can definitely see the similarities, the tollbooth journey to a different land, the friends who accompany our character on his quest and that he has to say goodbye and return home at the end. Shame there wasn’t an equivalent to the ruby slippers but hey, you can’t have everything.

In all seriousness, I think this is a classic childrens story jam-packed with excitement and adventures, fun and a few little morals, some scary but appropriate demons and even a subtle joke and intricate wordplay for the adults. I think it would probably be enjoyed more by older children, who can understand the references a bit better, but I think younger readers would enjoy the crazy cast of characters. My favourites had to be Tock, the loyal (and useful for telling time) dog, and Chroma the music conductor. There are some brilliant quotes in this book also:

“Expect everything, I always say, and the unexpected never happens.”

and

“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.”

I think sometimes the best children’s books are ones like this where you have a lot of fun but learn a little something along the way.

For Chrissi’s fab review, please see HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art