The Phantom Tollbooth and Redeeming the Power of Words

My dad calls me Bear. He and my mom came up with the nickname when I was a little girl. I slept hard, they tell me, like a hibernating cub.

I still sleep like it’s wintertime in the forest. Even now, when my parents see me early in the morning during a vacation or visit, they smile in that way only parents can, their faces bearing witness to a decades-long relationship with me.

“Hey, Bear. Want some coffee?”

“That would be great.”

“Here ya go. Your sleepy eyes look just like they did when you were two.”

____

As the eldest daughter of a word-loving father and homeschooling mother, I grew up surrounded by books. I remember once walking down the staircase with my nose in a book, carelessly risking a misplaced step or stubbed toe. Surely a fall would not be as calamitous as taking my eyes off the page for the 10-second trip to the first floor. The story I refused to set aside was The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, a children’s fantasy novel featuring a young, bored boy named Milo.

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(Art by Seth T. Hahne)

Author: Abby Perry

Abby has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, Upwrite Magazine, and The Influence Network. She is the communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts—one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations and one supporting area foster and adoptive families. Abby graduated from Texas A&M University and currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her family live in College Station, Texas.

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