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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
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The Phantom Tollbooth (original 1961; edition 2008)

by Norton Juster

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Member:goodwaterreader
Title:The Phantom Tollbooth
Authors:Norton Juster
Info:Harper Collins Children's Books (2008), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, English
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Author) (1961)

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Description: This ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth's gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets such characters as the foolish, yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, and the not-so-wicked "Which," Faintly Macabre, who gives Milo the "impossible" mission of returning two princesses to the Kingdom of Wisdom.

Thoughts: There was a time when this book would have been an extreme pleasure to discover, when I was young and only introduced to boring children's books that didn't stack up to my expectations. Had I read this around the time I read The Giver it probably would have been in contention for my favorite book. But, reading it as an adult, it just didn't have the meat to hold me. I loved the linguistic fun and the moral that you should use your brain and appreciate the words and sight and sounds around you, but the story just felt like a bunch of clever ideas placed one after another. Someone in Book Club last night said that it read like a checklist made on a legal pad, touching on interesting things and checking them off the list to move to the next. I could have spent chapter and chapters with the Which Witch Faintly Macabre or in the Valley of Sounds, but the brief stops just left me feeling hollow.

I so wish I'd read this at the right time and just been able to let it be awesome.

Rating: 3.58

Liked: 3.5
Plot: 3
Characterization: 3
Writing: 3.5
Auden scale: 5

https://www.librarything.com/topic/180103#4958890 ( )
  leahbird | Jan 20, 2015 |
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.

Oh how I wished I had read this book when I was younger! (perhaps not young you understand, just younger). What have I been missing? I heard about this book several times on book related podcasts, such as NPR and it was only whilst I was doing a trawl through the local children's department for Christmas presents that I saw the 50th anniversary edition out on a table. Well, the child I was buying for never got it (he'll live), and it was slipped onto my TBR shelf.

The Wikipedia page is here. I also found several reviews of the book (I wont talk about the film as I currently dont intend to see it), one from the UK in the form of The Guardian newspaper and one from Michael Chabon, writing in the New York Review of Books.

Essentially Milo starts the book as a child who does no independent thinking, dreaming, learning, abandons his toys almost immediately after getting them, and generally wastes his childhood doing not much. He returns home one day to find a gift in his bedroom. After building what turns out to be a toy tollbooth, he drives his little car through and into another world, called Wisdom.

The world is made up of several different cities - Dictionopolis (the city of words) and Digitopolis (the city of numbers), and things have never been right since the Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason were banished to the City in the Air. Milo, with Tock the (watch)dog, and Humbug, are sent to rescue the two Princesses and so travel across the land.

Along the way, the three of them encounter various different characters including: Faintly Macbre, the Not-So-Wicked Which. who regulated all words used in public, but became so stingy with them that people became afraid to talk at all; Dr. Kakofonous A. Dischord, a scientist who enjoys creating unpleasant sounds, and curing pleasant sounds; The Soundkeeper, who loves silence, rules the Valley of Sound - her vaults keep all the sounds ever made in history; Alec Bings, a boy of Milo's age and weight who sees through things - he grows downwards from a fixed point in the air until he reaches the ground, unlike Milo, who grows upwards from the ground.

The book is written in such a way that it can take a while to realise you're being taught a little truth (e.g. that if jump to Conclusions, it's not a pretty place and it's tiring work to get away from it). He rescues the Princesses - who were after all, simply McGuffins - and returns home. He is sad to see that the Tollbooth has disappeared - only to realise that he no longer needs it as he has so many new worlds to explore without it!
  nordie | Jan 4, 2015 |
The Phantom Tollbooth is extremely entertaining, taking readers to the fantasy world through the mystery tollbooth. Not only is the book funny, but it teaches a lot about language as well. Younger readers may not understand the language at some points, but would be entertained by the story and characters. To understand the novel's puns, it might be best to hold a lesson on idioms before assigning this novel to a class.
  adates12 | Dec 17, 2014 |
Although it may be a hard read on one's own, the Phantom Tollbooth is a great book for students in 5th-7th grade. It follows Milo as he is taken on a quest through a different world, one filled with numbers and words, reason and rhyme. Milo, joined by the watchdog Tock, and a creature called Humbug, must journey in this fantastical world to save the Princess of Rhyme and Reason. ( )
  SimoneAlexis | Dec 11, 2014 |
Gr 3-7, Milo is bored. Not just bored today, but always. He finds his life exhaustively boring, that is until one day he finds a small blue tollbooth in his bedroom that transports him to a different land. In this land he learns about reason, rhyme, and time from a handful of interesting characters, including King Azaz, a doctor of dissonance, and a dog that has a clock for a body. From all of his learning, he finds that his life isn’t so boring after all, but will he be able to save the princesses? There are black and white illustrations dispersed throughout that aid in the storytelling of the distant lands Milo visits. Juster’s classic novel is a great gentle reader title for young high order thinkers. It’s philosophical, with each chapter being a teachable moment for Milo and the reader. While such a form of didactic writing has fallen slightly out of style, Juster’s novel is sure to still be a hit. It is also a nice novel to reference for getting readers into fantasy. Readers who like the Phantom Tollbooth might also like The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. ( )
  foresterk | Dec 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 274 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Juster, NortonAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Feiffer, JulesIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Dietz, NormanNarratorsecondary 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.
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

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

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:09 -0400)

(see all 8 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 9 descriptions

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