The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I can remember being given two books as a birthday present once – this one, and Gemma and Sisters (Noel Streatfield). The picture on this one looked more appealing, but when I opened the two books to look inside it was Gemma and Sisters that won the “which shall I read first” decision. I did enjoy Gemma and Sisters enough to buy and read the rest of the books in the series, but it didn’t blow me away as much as The Phantom Tollbooth did. A bored child sets off on an adventure just because there is nothing better to do – and encounters a host of absurd characters, such as Tock (the watchdog whose body is a clock) and the Whetherman (who can tell you whether or not there will be any weather). I loved the idea of broken numbers being carted away to use as fractions, driving through The Doldrums where nothing ever happens, and the banquet where you had to eat your own words. The story is one long play on words, which appealed to my sense of humour as a child.