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The phantom tollbooth by Norton Juster
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The phantom tollbooth (original 1961; edition 1961)

by Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,398357310 (4.31)2 / 385
Member:CarlSandburgLibrary
Title:The phantom tollbooth
Authors:Norton Juster
Other authors:Jules Feiffer
Info:New York, Epstein & Carroll; distributed by Random House [1961]
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work details

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (1961)

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Showing 1-5 of 357 (next | show all)
"There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself — not just sometimes, but always."

Milo is bored, bored, bored. When a mysterious tollbooth appears in his room, he figures he may as well explore it, so he drives his little car through...and comes out somewhere else.

In a fantastical new land, he meets Tock the Watch Dog, the Spelling Bee, the Humbug, King Azaz of Dictionopolis and the Mathemagician of Digitopolis, the Which, the Awful Dynne, the Soundkeeper, Chroma, and many more; he gets stuck in the Doldrums, jumps to the Island of Conclusions, travels through the valley of Ignorance, and swims in the Sea of Knowledge; together with Tock and the Humbug, he goes on a quest to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason from the Castle in the Air.

I read this as a kid and while I enjoyed it, I'm sure I missed at least half its incredible cleverness. Reading it now as an adult, I admire how it works equally well on two levels: as a fantasy/adventure/magical realist quest story, and as a humorous linguistic delight.

The line that made me laugh out loud in startled surprise is when Milo hops into a wagon and asks the others what makes it go, and they tell him to shhhh - "it goes without saying." ( )
  JennyArch | Feb 19, 2019 |
Probably would have loved it if I was a kid but alas I am an adult and read it for the PopSugar Challenge. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
This book is beyond amazing. Seriously. Norton Juster adds new meaning to the word "witty". Extraordinarily written and comically clever, this is a book you will read over and over again, and find something new each time! A must read for people of all ages! A great read-aloud as well. ( )
  SarahGraceGrzy | Oct 2, 2018 |
I adore this book. I've read it so many times since I first read it as a child and it's become the book I give as a gift to all the children in my life as soon as they're old enough to read. Wonderful book, just wonderful. One of those books that makes me glad I enjoy reading. ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
I first read this in elementary school and I still re-read it. This is one of the most brilliant works written for children, a book that doesn't insult the child's intelligence, full of wordplay and parody and meaningful lessons. The point of the book is that there are always interesting things to think about and look for, no matter how boring your life may seem.
  aratiel | Sep 5, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 357 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Juster, Nortonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Feiffer, JulesIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dietz, NormanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grant, MelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, Diana WynneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pierce, David HydeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sendak, MauriceIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Andy and Kenny,
who waited so patiently
First words
There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself—not just sometimes, but always.
Quotations
"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."
Well, since you got here by not thinking, it seems reasonable to expect that, in order to get out, you must start thinking.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Please distinguish between this LT Work, Norton Juster's original The Phantom Tollbooth (1961), and the edition annotated by Leonard Marcus (2011). Thank you.
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The Phantom Tollbooth tells the story of a bored young boy named Milo who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth one afternoon and, having nothing better to do, decides to drive through it in his toy car. The tollbooth transports him to a land called the Kingdom of Wisdom. There he acquires two faithful companions, has many adventures, and goes on a quest to rescue the princesses of the kingdom from the castle of air, Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason. The text is full of puns, and many events, such as Milo's jump to the Island of Conclusions, exemplify literal meanings of English language idioms.
Haiku summary
A quite boring boy,
goes on a great adventure,
and he is changed a lot.
(Firefox-Flame_dancer)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394820371, Paperback)

"It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time," Milo laments. "[T]here's nothing for me to do, nowhere I'd care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing." This bored, bored young protagonist who can't see the point to anything is knocked out of his glum humdrum by the sudden and curious appearance of a tollbooth in his bedroom. Since Milo has absolutely nothing better to do, he dusts off his toy car, pays the toll, and drives through. What ensues is a journey of mythic proportions, during which Milo encounters countless odd characters who are anything but dull.

Norton Juster received (and continues to receive) enormous praise for this original, witty, and oftentimes hilarious novel, first published in 1961. In an introductory "Appreciation" written by Maurice Sendak for the 35th anniversary edition, he states, "The Phantom Tollbooth leaps, soars, and abounds in right notes all over the place, as any proper masterpiece must." Indeed.

As Milo heads toward Dictionopolis he meets with the Whether Man ("for after all it's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be"), passes through The Doldrums (populated by Lethargarians), and picks up a watchdog named Tock (who has a giant alarm clock for a body). The brilliant satire and double entendre intensifies in the Word Market, where after a brief scuffle with Officer Short Shrift, Milo and Tock set off toward the Mountains of Ignorance to rescue the twin Princesses, Rhyme and Reason. Anyone with an appreciation for language, irony, or Alice in Wonderland-style adventure will adore this book for years on end. (Ages 8 and up)

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:43 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

A journey through a land where Milo learns the importance of words and numbers provides a cure for his boredom.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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