I made a passing reference to a book yesterday, and one of the commenters seconded something that has bothered me for years. Why haven’t more people read The Phantom Tollbooth?
For years, whenever I spoke to groups about health care reform, I would end with a quotation from the book. No one ever got the reference. It always made me a bit sad.
The book is awesome. Milo had to rescue Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason, who had previously settled all disputes, after they were foolishly banished for decreeing that letters and numbers were equally important. Milo ate subtraction stew, which made you hungrier, when he visited Digitopolis. And he met the Half Boy, who comprised the 0.58 of a person in the average family (which has 2.58 children).
There was a Mathemagician!
But more than that, it’s the only book I remember from childhood that had a theme I retained. It had a message, one that should resonate with everyone. Here’s the King:
“…so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.”
and Princess Reason:
“…what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.”
You can be sure my children will read the book. I’ll probably read it again. Is there any lesson that’s more important?