Archives for posts with tag: Fantasy

by Sarah Chenoweth

Sage comes to small folk;
four leave to save Middle Earth.
Party of nine quest.

Trouble in Mordor;
evil wizard plots ruin.
Good wizard meets end.

Battle in the plains;
good sage now the White Wizard.
Hobbits ride in trees.

Two to destroy ring
followed by shell of a man.
Two fight in Gondor

Good outdoes evil;
the rightful king returns home.
Wise men sail away

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “A Hobbit’s Haiku” is, of course, inspired from the mythology created by J. R. R. Tolkien. The challenge of summing up three epic volumes in five simple haikus could not be passed up.

IMAGE: “The Trolls” by J.R.R. Tolkien, featured in the book J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (Mariner Books, 2001).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Chenoweth is a teacher, a writer, and a spiritual seeker. She has been published in Pittsburg State University’s Cow Creek Review and the academic journals Communication Theory and Rhetoric & Public Affairs. Sarah is a registered yoga teacher and the owner of Balanced Yoga Life, LLC in Pittsburg, Kansas. She has always loved fairy tales, having spent the better part of her life living one.


Some years back, I wrote a children’s novel that featured a girl named Anna, a dog named Otto, and lots of wordplay — as evidenced by the main characters’ names, spelled the same backward and forward. In the book, Anna, an amnesiac, sets out with Otto to learn her identity — and along the way meets a range of unusual characters and encounters a variety of wacky situations.

For a time, I shopped Anna & Otto to publishers in New York and received positive response (but no offers). One editor compared the novel’s emphasis on language to the wordplay found in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster — a book (shame on me) that I had never read.

That day, I visited my local Border’s (RIP) and purchased a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth, a novel first published in 1961. I went home and read the book in one giant gulp — a huge smile on my face the whole time.

Excerpt from The Phantom Tollbooth: “In this box are all the words I know…Most of them you will never need, some you will use constantly, but with them you may ask all the questions which have never been answered and answer all the questions which have never been asked. All the great books of the past and all the ones yet to come are made with these words. With them there is no obstacle you cannot overcome. All you must learn to do is to use them well and in the right places.” 

The book’s jacket copy advises, “Readers of all ages will find much wit and wisdom in Norton Juster’s beguiling, offbeat fantasy about a boy named Milo…[who] meets some of the most logically illogical characters ever met on this side or that side of reality, including King Azaz the Unabridged, unhappy ruler of Dictionopolis.”

The New York Times gave The Phantom Tollbooth a rave, noting: “Most books advertised for ‘readers of all ages’ fail to keep their promise. But Norton Juster’s amazing fantasy has something wonderful for anybody old enough to relish the allegorical wisdom of Alice in Wonderland and the pointed whimsy of The Wizard of Oz.” 

Now whenever I see a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth in one of my used-book haunts, I snap it up — and pass it  on to someone I know would love this marvel of a book. (I’ll admit that I don’t often find The Phantom Tollbooth at thrift stores — people hang onto their copies of this brilliant novel.) Highly recommended! A Must Read! 


Illustration: The cover illustration is by Jules Feiffer, whose witty, spot-on drawings fill the 256-page book (Knopf hardcover edition). At left is Feiffer’s drawing of the Terrible Trivium, “…demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.” 


…Oz got into the basket and said to all the people in a loud voice: “I am now going away to make a visit…” The balloon by this time was tugging hard at the rope that held it to the ground… “Come, Dorothy!” cried the Wizard. “Hurry up, or the balloon will fly away” From Chapter 17 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

For More: Read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at Project Gutenberg, where you can download the book for free in many forms (including Kindle). 

Trivia Note: L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while living in Chicago at 1667 N. Humboldt Blvd — just a few blocks from where I grew up.

Illustration: Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier (brothers from France) invented and manufactured the first montgolfières, or hot air balloons, in the late 18th century.