(Yep. That's my original copy from 1989. I wish I could make it scratch-n-sniff for you because it smells like love and happiness.)
The other day my 10-year-old niece handed me a book and said, "I keep forgetting to give this to you." It was a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Apparently when my niece was visiting my parents in Pennsylvania last year, my mom gave her the book and told her to pass it along to me. To my niece, she was just doing what she was told. But to me, this meant the world. This book wasn't just any books, it was mine--the one that I had read as a wee little lass, when I first discovered the magic that is The Phantom Tollbooth.
I held the book in my hands and swear I heard a "whoosh" as the memories of first reading the book came back to me. I was enamored Milo's adventures. A market place that sold letters and a watchdog whose body was literally a clock? How could I not love that? To this day, I still get unnerved when I think of the expressionless man who tries to delay Milo by making him count grains of sand with tweezers. These are the snippets I tell children about when they come to the store looking for a book that isn't Harry Potter or Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I have yet to hear a kid say that he or she didn't like the book. They always return with rave reviews. And why not, you know? I mean, The Phantom Tollbooth is an astounding piece of children's literature that is in a class of its own.
I'm as giddy as a jumping bean (are jumping beans giddy?) to have my copy back in my hands. And has my niece read the book? You better believe it. She has a copy of her own now too. What an amazing gift we have in books. They entertain us in the moment, but stay with us our entire lives.
P.S. Is there a book from your childhood that makes you as giddy as a jumping bean too? If so, post it in the comments.