Review: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Reviewed by DJ, age 9

This is a book for kids at my age, it will mind-boggle you. It's about a boy, Milo, who doesn't do anything interesting in his life, and one day he finds a tollbooth in his room, which takes him on an adventure to "Expectations." So he goes on an adventure to rescue two princess, Rhyme and Reason, meeting a lot of interesting challenges along the way. R&R (for short) were sent away in a castle in the air because King Azaz and The Mathemagician got into a fight. Which is more important, words, or numbers?

And so these guys went to R&R to get their opinion about this. R&R said they are BOTH evenly important, which is why R&R were banished. There is a cast of interesting characters in the story: Tock the Watchdog, The Humbug, Demons of such terrible things as Time Wasting, Worthless Jobs, The Senses Taker, and they encounter and defeat these during their adventure. It's a very funny and interesting book, with very odd and interesting pencil illustrations liberally placed through the book - Jules Feiffer is the illustrator.

There is a lot of math in the chapters that the Mathemagician and the Dodecahedron appear in. If you have my book, page 188 has QUITE an interesting equation, I dare you to do it (no cheating by looking at page 189!)

I recommend this book for read aloud 6 and up, read alone 9 and up. I rate it an 8 out of 10.


Review: The Man in the Ceiling and A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears 

The Man in the Ceiling and A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears by Jules Feiffer.

Reviewed by Troy, age 11.

These books are classified as "Silly-Thinky" books for a reason. If you have spare time, lots of spare time, I recommend reading these two books. A Barrel of Laughs first, and then The Man in the Ceiling.

A Barrel of Laughs, A Vale of Tears is about a prince who is always so happy that he makes other people laugh just by being near them. The book is mainly about his quest to get rid of that "laughing radius" and to discover the inner side of himself, and, of course since it's a medieval book, to find and rescue a princess and then marry her. Only it's not that simple.

He's given a bag of magic powder that will turn him into things that will not make people laugh, and ends up using half the bag in one area called the "forever forest." The reason it's called that is because it goes on forever (duh). He ends up escaping from the forest by walking backwards because logic dictates that if you can't get out by walking forward, then the opposite must be true. He ends up in the Great Divide and uses the last of his magic powder to get Lady Sadie (the princess's lady in waiting) and himself across the great canyon that separates the Great Divide from the other side. He ends up as an eagle, and Lady Sadie ends up as a leaf that blows away in the wind. He tries to find Lady Sadie, so he flies on to the Valley of Vengeance, where everybody has to get even with another person. He meets his old friend Tom who, by the way, can exit or reenter the story at any time, it's difficult to understand, but he can walk out of the book and reenter a few minutes later in a different chapter (depending upon how fast you read).

I rate this book a 8 out of 10, because there's a lot of logic that is unnecessary, or humorous, or wasting time. Basically this book is more silly than thinky. I recommend it for ages 8+.

The Man in the Ceiling is a (hitting my head repeatedly trying find the right words) is the book that puts the "thinky" in the silly. The book has a moral, I don't usually like books with morals but this one has a valuable lesson. It teaches you to be yourself. It's about a kid named Jimmy, his family and his Uncle Lester. Jimmy is a cartoonist, an action cartoonist, and his Uncle Lester writes musical plays. (More head hitting). Jimmy gets his views exploited by a kid named Charlie Beemer who wants him to write gory, bloody action comics about Bulletman, who's head kills anything (even if it isn't alive!). Charlie does not like Bulletman, but writes for the sake of Charlie, who happens to be the most popular kid in school. A crucial linchpin in the story is Jimmy cannot draw bare hands. And his uncle keeps on striking out trying to write for Broadway musicals. Uncle Lester eventually writes a musical called "Robotica" that loosely resembles the Bride of Frankenstein without any scary parts. The audience thinks it's a big hit, but the critics are lukewarm in their reviews. Uncle Lester gets very down and even leaves town for a little bit. When he comes back, he drops by for dinner with his dog, Vernon (the name of the top critic in town). This is where the linchpin comes in. Uncle Lester comes down to see what Jimmy is drawing, and they get engaged in a conversation where Jimmy shows Uncle Lester his newest creation, "Ceiling Man" and Uncle Lester is proud that he is not drawing Bulletman anymore. Jimmy then pulls out a manila envelope, and I'm going to leave the rest for you to find out. All I'm going to say is, it's not what you expect.

I rate this book a 9.9999 out of 10. I recommend it for ages 9 through 999999. If you happen to be older than that, please let the Guinness Book of World Records know.