Without question, I live in a city of readers. How else can you explain that a favorite lyric at my son’s school assemblies is, “We are lifelong readers”? Or the fact that Decatur’s beloved Little Shop of Stories teamed up with the Decatur Book Festival, the Decatur Education Foundation and the Decatur Rotary Club to launch a city-wide reading initiative called On the Same Page (OTSP)?
The 2011 OTSP selection was Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth. Although the book celebrated its 50th year in print in the fall, I was oblivious to its existence until I heard friends and neighbors discussing it. Apart from the life lessons we learn or relearn through the young protagonist Milo’s experiences (try “what you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do” on for size), this novel really piqued my curiosity as a linguist. The characters are more than just people and animals, like the Spelling Bee, Short Shrift, Tock the Watchdog (a giant pup with a clock on his side) and the princesses Rhyme and Reason. The places Milo visits feature as characters, as well. There’s the Doldrums (where nothing happens and nothing changes – ever), the Island of Conclusions (you reach it by jumping) and Expectations (some people never make it beyond that place).
As a German-English translator, imagine my delight when I realized that Juster’s celebrated work was translated into German by Cornelia Krutz-Arnold within the last decade. Milos ganz und gar unmögliche Reise is definitely one of the next books on my growing reading list.