The Phantom Tollbooth

ISBN: 0394820371
ISBN 13: 9780394820378
By: Norton Juster Jules Feiffer

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Genres

Children Children's Childrens Classics Currently Reading Fantasy Favorites Fiction To Read Young Adult

About this book

Milo mopes in black ink sketches, until he assembles a tollbooth and drives through. He jumps to the island of Conclusions. But brothers King Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis war over words and numbers. Joined by ticking watchdog Tock and adult-size Humbug, Milo rescues the Princesses of Rhyme and Reason, and learns to enjoy life.

Reader's Thoughts

sal

I read THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH in the sixth grade in my English class, and I hated it. I remember thinking that it was the most ridiculous book I had ever read, and I felt that every moment of it was a waste of my time.When I went to college, my math education professor kept using this book as an example of how to bring literature into our mathematics classroom. Since I remembered hating the book so much, I never took the time to re-read it.For some reason, this summer, I picked it up. I don't know why I hated it so much as a sixth grader! The book is hilarious! It's full of silly plays-on-words, creative characters, and a fantastical quest. I've been reading it to my sixth grade class, and they love it! THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH is the WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE for older and more educated readers. It's a fantasy adventure that will keep you reading and wanting more!

Everett Hanson

This is my favourite book that I have read so far. When I start reading, I just could not stop. One of my favourite parts is how creative the author is with the world Milo is in. My favourite character is Tock the watchdog; I like how he has a real clock mounted onto him. Another great thing about this book is that with a different type of world come perfect places to make hilarious jokes. For an example, the Mathmagician (the king of Digitopolis, the kingdom of numbers) got mad and started adding up anger and multiplying wrath.

Shivani

Anyone who has a passion for words and wordplay will enjoy reading The Phantom Tollbooth. In this charming children's book, author Norton Juster takes us on an adventure with his main character Milo, a young boy who enters a chaotic place called the Kingdom of Wisdom and finds that to restore order in the kingdom, he must save the banished princesses Rhyme and Reason.When the story begins, Milo gets home one afternoon expecting to go through the same humdrum after-school routine he always goes through. But on this particular day, he arrives home to find a tollbooth waiting to transport him to a faraway place. Soon, Milo is traveling through the Kingdom of Wisdom, seeking to rescue Rhyme and Reason with the help of his companions, Tock the Watchdog and the Humbug.Along the way, Milo meets some interesting and clever characters, such as the Whether Man (not to be confused with the Weather Man, "for after all it's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be") and Kakofonous Dischord, Doctor of Dissonance, whom Milo meets on the outskirts of the Valley of Sound. Page after page, Juster's clever puns and witty plays on words make his characters memorable and his storyline entertaining.On his journey, Milo travels to several places within the Kingdom of Wisdom, learning useful things along the way. In Dictionopolis, for instance, he discovers the abundance of words and the importance of choosing the right word for the right occasion. On his way to Digitopolis, a land ruled by numbers, Milo ends up on the Island of Conclusions. There, he decides to himself, "From now on, I'm going to have a very good reason before I make up my mind about anything," and he learns that "you can lose too much time jumping to Conclusions."Armed with the knowledge he has gathered on his journey through the Kingdom, Milo finally reaches the Mountains of Ignorance, where he and his faithful companions dodge and outwit various demons and ultimately save the princesses Rhyme and Reason. In the end, Milo is transported back to the present with a newfound curiosity about the world and a greater appreciation for learning.Juster's humor throughout the story is at times subtle, at times downright silly, but often clever and thought-provoking, making this book an enjoyable read for young and old alike. They say there's a child in all of us, and The Phantom Tollbooth truly is a children's book for all ages.

Emily

This book is: Fantastic! Marvelous! Fabulous! Stupendous! Incredible! Thus would be the reaction of the cabinet of King Azaz the Unabridged of the Kingdom of Dictionopolis. In The Phantom Tollbooth, we find the meaning of such statements as “It goes without saying”, and “Half-baked ideas”. We learn what might be the best kind of sentence you can get from a police officer. We are taught the rules of The Doldrums: one being that you’re only allowed to smile slightly every other Thursday. And perhaps most importantly, we find out that you really do have to eat your words—so be careful what you say! The characters are fantastic! There’s a ‘Watch’ Dog, a ‘Which’, ‘Lethargians’, a Senses Taker, and many more! Milo, our ‘hero’, takes a ride through this strange land and tries to save Rhyme and Reason (did you know they were people?) from the Castle in the Air (don’t we all have one of those?). Fun for all ages, although you may not want to read this at bedtime, as I did, as it made us giggle more than yawn! From 2010:Josh is actually reading this one to himself right now, but I thought I'd add it anyway... Maybe I'll even put his review up! :)Josh's Review:You SHOULD read this one! It has all kinds of situations, like when the main character got a little gift. It was called The Phantom Tollbooth. It was magic and could take you to countries you would never know about!

Marie Lu

I don't remember much about this book, except that I loved it to pieces, and that the subtraction stew always made me really hungry.

Sarah

One of the greatest childhood books ever. I still enjoy it.

Lea

This is such a sweet book, but full of genuinely profound lessons. I read this on the recommendation of my 14 year old daughter who remembers it fondly from grade school. I thank her for the suggestion -- I loved the story of Milo & his friends Tock & the Humbug. I would recommend this for any child reading independently (younger readers may need some gentle guidance with some of the concepts & humor, which isn't dumbed down in the least), but also for any adult looking for a quick read that is also meaningful.

Katie

I wasn't as impressed with this book as many of my friends. Perhaps that is because of my high expectations for the book or perhaps because of my preferences in writing style. So those who love this book can use one of those two reasons to blow off my review. However, the fact remains that I was not very interested from page to page, and if not for a commitment to a book group, I am afraid I would not have had any desire to finish it.In style the book seems to be written for a particular age group ranging from 8-11, depending on the vocabulary and maturity of the reader. And, for the preteen sense of humor, the wordplay was appropriate and would be quite funny to the intended audience. However, the wordplay was really the only interesting aspect to the book, and I'm tempted to say as much for the joke books my niece reads to me. The plot was simple and was secondary to both the wordplay and the multiple morals of the story. In fact, a new moral was introduced with every chapter (some chapters containing more than one moral), and each chapter was only a few short pages long. This was the main drawback to the book. Not to say that morals aren't important in a work, but too many morals are detracting. Introducing, then immediately leaving a moral behind decreases the likeliness that it will be remembered once the book is finished. My other main problem with the book was the lack of description to help the reader enjoy the fantastical and quite creative world Juster introduces. Here one moment, and there the next, the reader is left wondering...How did Milo find his car again (he was lost only a moment ago)? Where are they? What do they see? This book, whose main moral is to teach a child to notice the world around them, simply forgot to take a look around. (The spectacular scene with Chroma and his orchestra being the exception.)Overall, an interesting book, leaps and bounds above the other children's literature of Juster's contemporaries, but not my favorite.

Heather

Not only do I love this book, but I just finished reading it to my seven and five and ahalf year old, who now adore it as well. As a matter of fact, instead of beginning another "big kid" book tonight, as planned, they have requested that we start Tollbooth again, which is high praise from two little kids with rather short attention spans. We broke it up into litter sections, sometimes stopping in the middle of a chapter, and it helped to be able to say "Oh, guess what, Next, Milo gets to visit the Valley of Sound..." and get them excited. I highly reccommend this book, whatever your age... I dind't read it first until COLLEGE, when a dear and treasured friend (guy, of course) would call me in the evenings and read me "bedtime stories." We became best friends later on, and the book became one of my favorites. (And my husband and his wife don't hate either of us for being such good friends then either, which is wonderful, considering they have replaced our best-friendness in our hearts, but it was great to have a caring, non-boyfriend guy at that time especially!)

David

Reading "grown-up" literature is excavating the human soul, the adult soul: a mangled mess of contradictions and self-deceptions, screwy motives and the odd self-adherent logic of artistic creation. But Literature (capital ell) is a pyrrhic battle between message and evasion: one must avoid moralizing outright, must avoid overt allegory, but must never be too subtle, too veiled, lest you be resigned to snobby undergrabs and many rubbish bins. The Phantom Tollbooth is a strange beast: decidedly accessible to children, but remains lovable to adults. It's championing of the struggle against moral short-cuts, boredom, and mental waste is timeless, ageless, and remains prescient, even to me: a grown person 52 years after it's publication!My grandmother has always said: "only boring people get bored" - I am guilty of sometimes serving this packaged wit cold when a friend laments "I'm bored!" but I think forcefully throwing this book at them would be a better remedy. What is signifed in my grandmother's aphorism is that interested people are interesting, and more importantly are never idle. My family (paternal side) is a hard-working, conservative, New Englander family: we don't watch much television, we read lots of books, we listen to NPR and read the Wall Street Journal, we somewhat self-indulgently talk about the cultural decline in literacy and how we are not a part of it. But the story of Milo is one which is both entertaining, lovable, but also cautionary. By no means is Milo a bad child, a dull idler, but rather he has not found passion yet. He is bored because his urban living, his deadening routine has stayed access to the bliss of potentiality. The only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that's hardly worth the effort. We are plagued, as a modern, urban society by the two-headed monster of routine. Routine comforts us, it gives us an escape into the dull and Terrible Trivium: the small tasks which comfort us and distract us from important, difficult work and choices. Our society is filled with spineless and indecisive people (the Gelatinous Giant) and those who feed us half-truths, who coddle us into a mire, into a trap (Monster of Insincerity): they are not villains, and these flaws do not define all people, but are characteristic in turn. Our weaknesses, our daemons, are our horrible defenses, our cozy citadels in the mountains of Ignorance. It is not the absence of bad habits (hours of dull television, bad reading or no reading) that marks an individual's decline, but rather the presence, the support, of our defenses. The demons of the mountains of Ignorance are impotent without our compliance, they feed on our weakness for what is easy. If we allow the glittering sovereigns of Rhyme and Reason to go fugitive in their empyrean prison, we lose our grip on true happiness, we become boring, we become easily bored. Thankfully, there is nothing boring in The Phantom Tollbooth: its play with language is unrivaled certainly in children/young-adult literature, and rivals even the masters of play (Joyce, Nabokov, etc) in the grander schema. With a dual reverence for words and numbers, rhyme and reason, and a prevailing apotheosis of time, beyond the value of currency: something never to be wasted, Juster champions all forms of mental activity and cerebral play. I can imagine no better way to introduce a bored student, particularly one ahead of his class, to the ever-infinite vistas of imagination and invention than to hand him or her this book. “It has been a long trip," said Milo, climbing onto the couch where the princesses sat; "but we would have been here much sooner if I hadn't made so many mistakes. I'm afraid it's all my fault.""You must never feel badly about making mistakes," explained Reason quietly, "as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.”

Rajat Ubhaykar

After reading this book, I've decided that whosoever drilled it into our heads about puns being the basest form of humour can go screw himself. (no pun intended)

CKE387

The adventure of Milo and Tock, who is a watchdog - literally! Great play on words, makes you think about the word you use and how they're used. Loved the drawings by Jules Feiffer, too!Some of my favorite quotes:"Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where yoy're going" - Whether Man"The Doldrums are where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes." - the Lethargarians"You weren't thinking and you weren't paying attention either. People who don't pay attention often get stuck in the Doldrums." - the Lethargarians"Killing Time!" roared the dog, so furiously that his alarm went off. "It's bad enough wasting time without killing it.""Help you! You must help yourself." the dog replied."History is full of humbugs." - Humbug"A slavish concern for the compostion of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect," roared the Humbug, waving his cane furiously."Brevity Is the Soul of Wit" - Official Which "An Ill-chosen Word Is the Fool's Messenger" "Silence is Golden""Things which are equally bad are also equally good. Try to look at the bright side of things." - Humbug"I didn't know that I was going to have to eat my words" objected Milo."Of course, of course, everyone here does," the king AZAZ the unabridges grunted. "You should have made a tastier speech.""There's nothing to it," said the Mathemagician "if you have a magic staff.""But it's only a big pencil," the Humbug objected, tapping at it with his cane."True enough," agreed the Mathemagician,"but once you learn to use it, there's no end to what you can do.""But why do only unimportant things?" asked Milo, who suddenly remembered how much time he spent each day doing them."Think of all the trouble it saves," the man explained, and his face looked as if he'd be grinning an evil grin - if he could grin at all, "If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you'll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You just won't have the time. For there's always something to do to keep you from what you really should be doing, and if it weren't for that dreadful magic staff, you'd never know how much time you were wasting." - Terrible Trivium, demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.Very imagnative read! The book felt like it was Dr. Seuss for tweens, young adult or just the young at heart!

Snorkle

Milo is bored with living, he rushes to get places but once he is there he wonders why he even bothered. He can't seem to help that he finds everything so droll. That changes when he finds a mysterious tollbooth kit and decides that since he has nothing better to do he will build it, and that is when the real adventure begins.From the very first sentence of this book I was hooked. I knew that this was exactly the sort of book that I would enjoy and I absolutely loved all the phrases and sayings that when taken literally cause hysterics in the reader. I had been seeing this book everywhere lately, it was referenced in books, recommended to me by friends and finally I got the hint and checked it out from the library. What I was expecting was remarkably different from what I read, but it was oh-so-much-better. Every page had a little piece of wit that if you weren't carefully watching out for, you'd miss entirely. The Phantom Tollbooth was a book that taught you why things were important all the while cleverly hiding them in a seemingly harmless story tale. This was the sort of book that when reading you would burst out laughing and have an urge to find someone, anyone so that you could read them the clever little line that was so spectacular. The Phantom Tollbooth is a supremely awesome book, far superior to a lot of the rubbish they publish nowadays.*Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2008...

Ben Siems

Having spent much of this winter in less than wonderful health, I have been happily accepting donations of reading material from friends. One friend, on a lark, dropped off her copy of this old classic, which I last read probably at age 13 or so.In re-reading it, I was reminded of the ambivalence I had about it on my first read back then. The level of cleverness is indeed impressive, at times dazzling, and for certain there are some fantastically humorous moments. It is also nice to read a morality tale with a message not of piety or "thou shalt nots," but rather of the fundamental importance of knowledge and openness to the lessons the world has to teach. At that, there is no doubt that this book has a beautiful heart, and I can hardly imagine any youth being anything but positively influenced by it.That being said, more than once on this read, I was reminded of Edgar Allen Poe's famously ruthless critique of allegory as a literary style: "The best than can possibly be achieved is awakening in the reader a vague sense of being impressed by how well something was done that never should have been attempted in the first place." Certainly, there are times when Juster's allegorical style is strained and even forced to the point of being a tedious read. It is probably a price worth paying on a first read of the book for the many lovely things the story has to offer, but also a very good reason to read The Phantom Tollbooth only once in one's life.

Joseph

When I was a kid I used to read and re-read the Phantom Tollbooth like it was going out of style.Flash forward to 2010, and here I am, finally reviewing one of the most precious books of my childhood. I'm sure it's been said once, but I'll say it again, this book is no children's book. Sure, it has many elements of a child's book, and at first glance it may seem as such, but upon re-reading it for the umpteenth time I realized how enjoyable the book can be to anyone. It simply doesn't matter how old you are, it's a great great great book.The word play made me smile and shake my head countless amounts of times. The sheer simplicity of it contributed to its beauty.I think it also helps that I relate so closely with Milo, the protagonist. I sometimes have to remind myself of the beauty of the world amidst all the negativity floating around the air.To me, there will never be a book as touching as The Phantom Tollbooth. Not very many books, if any can do that for me. Cheers Mr. Juster, your writing is a true inspiration!

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