UMHS One Book. One School.

Update on the Program: September 2016


Let’s get it right out there—this is a children’s book. But that label does not do this novel justice. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland, the author, Norton Juster, creates an allegorical tapestry of life lessons carefully woven into an entertaining and whimsical story that captures the hearts and minds of children and adults alike.

The story, on the surface, seems to be the curious tale of a young boy who travels to a fantasy land filled with nonsensical characters and situations. But upon deeper inspection, the reader learns that this boy’s journey parallels the all too familiar path

through adolescent disillusionment and apathy to the realization that life is a gift and

that our time here on Earth is not to be wasted.

As a team of educators here at UMHS, we have discussed student motivation time and

time again. We seek engagement and look to create authentic learning experiences for

our students. We often wonder how we can inspire our students to know what we now know—that life and the opportunities afforded to us through our educational journey are not to be wasted. This lesson is what Milo, our protagonist, ultimately learns as he embarks on his quest to return rhyme and reason to a ridiculous, tumultuous world. We, too, hope to help our students to see the power of rhyme and reason and to once again inspire in them the sense of wonder that once was at the forefront of their motivation. As you begin to read the novel, you will see the intricacies of the language and the underlying messages of beauty, friendship, and perseverance that have been enjoyed by child and adult readers alike for over fifty years.

Lexile level: 1000L, aligned with Grades 9-12, CCSS

The Novel Comes to Life in UMHS Classrooms

Since school opened on August 29th, we have had the privilege of seeing how UMHS teachers are incorporating our One Book. One School, title, The Phantom Tollbooth, into their classroom instruction. We've also had many conversations with our students and are happy to hear all they have learned about themselves and others from reading this novel.
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Other Classroom Examples

  • Ms. Powidzki worked with UMHS teachers to teach introductory and body paragraphs using The Phantom Tollbooth as the common essay topic.
  • Mr. Fisher conducted a lesson in his History classroom teaching students about respecting others' perspectives.
  • Ms. Watson and Mr. Ferrarello helped students to write essays focusing on personal goals and overcoming personal demons much like the main character, Milo, does in the novel.
  • Mrs. Prince chose three of her favorite quotes from the novel to be the cornerstone for her students' overall development in her class throughout the year.
  • Mr. Martin's students created how-to guides for overcoming personal demons.
The Phantom Tollbooth 50 Years Later

This article from "The New Yorker" includes an interview with the author and illustrator and focuses on the staying power of the novel.

“Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. ” -The Phantom Tollbooth