For reading out loud

When you walk in or out of the library lobby this Wednesday, June 20, you will be unlikely to miss the 2012 Princeton Public Library Reading Filibuster. Staff and the public (pre-registration is encouraged) will be taking turns reading the book “The Phantom Tollbooth,” the children’s classic by Norton Juster, starting with its first page at 9:30 a.m. and continuing until its last page is read later in the afternoon.

The term “filibuster” – from a Dutch word meaning “pirate” – has a long history in the U.S. Senate. While a “filibuster’ (rhymes with “antitruster,” “baby buster,” “broncobuster,”  and “knuckle-duster”) is, defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, as “extreme dilatory tactics in an attempt to delay or prevent action especially in a legislative assembly,” our motive is to initiate action, in this case our our terrific “Dream Big” summer reading clubs and events for all ages. The tactic of this filibuster is to encourage everyone to participate in the pleasure of reading — and reading for pleasure.

“The Phantom Tollbooth,” written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, is a contemporary classic, published in 1961, long before the days of E-Z pass! Milo, our story’s young hero, receives a magic tollbooth and is transported to the “Kingdom of Wisdom,” where he meets two companions and they set off on a series of adventures and a daring rescue. The text uses puns, rhymes in its appeal has been compared Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

Read more about its literary legacy in “Broken Kingdom: Fifty years of “The Phantom Tollbooth” published in 2011 in The New Yorker. And you can hear Juster, recorded last year in celebration of the book’s 50th anniversary, in an essay “My Accidental Masterpiece: The Phantom Tollbooth” on NPR”s “All Things Considered.”

We are also screening “The Phantom Tollbooth,” the animated musical film adapted from the Juster’s book, released in 1970, featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and Hans Conreid. This screening coincides with the 100th anniversary of the birth of legendary Warner Bros. animator Chuck Jones, who produced and directed “The Phantom Tolllbooth,” on Saturday June 30 at 2 p.m.

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