We’re quickly introduced to the almost anonymous, and not very actively parented, Milo, a large-eyed boy in a dark shirt—a boy too bored to look up from the pavement as he walks home from school. Within paragraphs, a strange package has arrived in his room. It turns out to be a cardboard tollbooth, waiting to be assembled. Milo obediently sets it up, pays his fare (he has an enviable electric car already parked by his bed), and is rushed away to the Lands Beyond, a fantastical world of pure ideas. The book breaks the first rule of “good” children’s literature: we’re in the plot before we know the people.
Broken rules or not, my copy is on a bookshelf next to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Le Petit Prince, and others just waiting to be read by my child someday.