Questions from Phans
"I started reading The Phantom Tollbooth today for the first time with
a 4th grade student whom I tutor after
school. I brought with me a copy published in the early 70's
that I found at my parents' house, while the student
had a paperback published in 1995 and purchased in the UK. The most
immediately noticeable difference is that
the artwork is not the same, including the cover. As soon as we began
reading we discovered differences in the
language as well. Where my copy says "elevator," hers says "lift".
Where mine says "highway," hers says
"motorway". Obviously our editions were tailored for
different markets. Can you explain this?"
- Thanks to many UK Phans for commenting on this. It's common practice
to alter some children's books into UK or US vernacular. Kids in the US
wouldn't know what a "lift" was, so it gets changed, and vice-versa.
The Phantom Tollbooth is by an American author and so has been
slightly modified in the UK versions. I just read the first Harry
Potter book, which in the US is called The Sorcerer's Stone
instead of The Philosopher's Stone, and has several other changes
inside to US slang (like "crisps" becomes the US "chips").
The cover artwork changes often
when a different publisher puts it out. I have several US copies with
- Q: "My assistant and I had a ball deciding why the characters
had the names
they had; however, we NEVER could figure out Alec Bing!
Do you know why
he was named that?"
I never could figure that one out either. Any ideas?
- This from Jeru B., a 15-year-old Phan in in South Africa:
"I do have kind of an idea about what Alec Bings name could mean
(well, his first
name, at least!) When a person acts really smart, that person is called
SMART ALEC"... maybe Norton Juster is trying to imply that Alec is very
That's just a thought."
Last Modified: January 11, 2002