Friday, June 22, 2007

It's All in How You Look at Things --

One of my favorite books has to be Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth --

I've probably read and reread this a dozen times in the past 5 years. Today, I found myself getting it out of the bookshelf and putting it in my bag before we left for work.

When Johann asked me what book I eventually chose and I told him the title, he said that it was a book that only a few of our students could probably understand or appreciate.

The Phantom Tollbooth is a deceptive piece of literature, much like Lewis Carroll's Alice stories. (Juster's book is often compared to Carroll's.) While the storytelling is whimsical and the use of language incredibly playful, it presents painful truths about life.

I have just finished reading Chapter 9 (It's All in How You Look at Things) and am now in Chapter 10 (A Colorful Symphony) -- I love how these chapters emphasize the concept of point of view --

"...to tall men I'm a midget, and to short men I'm a giant; to the skinny ones I'm a fat man, and to the fat ones I'm a thin man."

Something is bound to look different, depending on who is looking at it and from what position and, while there are popular ways of looking at certain things, we should remember that that isn't the only way.

Almost in the same breath, the book reminds you that you can't keep looking at things from someone else's point of view.

I love how the book builds and then contradicts itself. I think that this is part of the book's magic -- we are allowed to see something with fresh eyes. Something old is new again.

1 comment:

Tarie said...

I want to read this book too! I've heard others rave about it too!