I'm rereading The Phantom Tollbooth, and a sentence struck out at me that I haven't noticed before:

Milo jumped back in fright and quickly grabbed Tock to make sure that his alarm didn't go off—for he knew how much witches hate loud noises.

Is Norton Juster referencing a certain book or other source here? Where did he get this "fact" about witches?

  • 6
    First Phantom Tollbooth question. Very surprising. If you haven't I really recommend you read it.
    – TheAsh
    Feb 9, 2019 at 20:29
  • 4
    Nicholas Remy (1594) vouchsafed that bells (and in particular consecrated church bells) were a sovereign specific against demons and witches; i.stack.imgur.com/ojNEV.png
    – Valorum
    Feb 9, 2019 at 21:47
  • 1
    it was made into a live action / animated movie was well - Chuck Jones animated - less than stellar compared to the book but still - quite surprised you've never heard of it - heck, it's even referenced in an episode of "Parks and Recreation" :D
    – NKCampbell
    Feb 10, 2019 at 23:03
  • @TheAsh I’m American and grew up with both the book and the movie and they never breathed a word of it my entire school career as I moved up and down the east coast every year or two. I fear that I must disagree with the commonality here in the US.
    – Broklynite
    Feb 11, 2019 at 2:14

1 Answer 1


I don't know if this is what Juster intended, but the connection I made as a child was to "Hansel and Gretel." The witch with the gingerbread house has extremely sensitive hearing, so that she can hear the children taking bites out of her cottage:

Nibble, nibble, little mouse.
Who's been nibbling at my house?

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