The Phantom Tollbooth is a 1961 children's adventure novel by American writer Norton Juster with illustrations by Jules Feiffer(pictured). It tells the story of a bored young boy named Milo, who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth one afternoon and, having nothing better to do, drives through it in his toy car. The tollbooth transports him to the Kingdom of Wisdom, once prosperous, now troubled. There, he acquires two faithful companions and goes on a quest to restore to the kingdom its exiled princesses, named Rhyme and Reason. The text is full of puns and wordplay; many events, such as when Milo unintentionally jumps to Conclusions (an island in Wisdom), explore the literal meanings of idioms. A major theme of the book is a love for education. Although the book was not expected to sell well, it received strong reviews and has sold in excess of three million copies. It has been adapted into a film, opera, and play, and translated into many languages. Critics have compared its appeal to that of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. (Full article...)
The buff-banded rail (Gallirallus philippensis) is a distinctively coloured, highly dispersive, medium-sized rail of the family Rallidae. This species comprises several subspecies found throughout much of Australasia and the south-west Pacific region. A largely terrestrial bird the size of a small domestic chicken, it feeds on a range of terrestrial invertebrates and small vertebrates, seeds, fallen fruit and other vegetable matter, as well as carrion and refuse.