Today marks the 50th anniversary of Norton Juster’s classic surreal children’s book, The Phantom Tollbooth , so needless to say we plan to spend it reminiscing about bored Milo heading off towards the Mountains of Ignorance, with Tock the trusty watchdog at his side. We think The Phantom Tollbooth, which we read when we were children, is one of those stories that will just always be relevant. As the New Yorker noted, “the fifty-year birthday of a good children’s book marks a real passage, since it means that the book hasn’t been passed just from parent to child but from parent to child and on to child again.”
The cover art is just as iconic, though it has changed as the book has been published in various languages and in various years. We have to admit that we don’t think any of the covers improved very much on the original — and we think the publishers agree with us, considering the number of times it has been reprinted in its traditional blue garb — but there have definitely been a few variations worth taking a look at, if only for nostalgia’s sake. Click through to see our roundup of Phantom Tollbooth covers from the past fifty years, and then we suggest you cuddle up in bed with a familiar blue (or white or peach or purple) book.
First Edition, 1961
Random House Special 35th Anniversary Edition, 1996
Spanish Edition, 2001
Chinese Edition, 2007
50th Anniversary Edition (featuring the original art), 2011