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The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)

by Norton Juster

Other authors: Jules Feiffer (Illustrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,664360306 (4.31)2 / 388
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Showing 1-5 of 359 (next | show all)
This is one of those children’s books that I never read as a kid. I somehow missed it completely. I finally read the print edition a few years ago and then immediately handed it to The Hubster and made him read it since he'd missed it as a kid too. We both loved it.

Earlier this year I found out that there was new audio edition coming that was narrated by Rainn Wilson. I listened to a sample and discovered that (as I expected) he was perfect to narrate this. I bought it and saved it for a road trip. We finally listened to it on our vacation to the coast. At less than five hours, it was perfect for the drive there and to finish on the way home.

I already want to listen to it again. I loved the book all over again. I think the brilliant wordplay comes across even better when it's heard rather than read. Rainn Wilson is an inspired choice for narrator. His slight inflections and pauses in just the right places truly highlight the cleverness of this book.

This edition includes an introduction read by Norton Juster that was delightful.

Do yourself a favor and listen to this. ( )
  SuziQoregon | Aug 11, 2019 |
This is billed as a kids book. I dunno, it was one long play on words, and rather a moralistic play on words. All good for me, but I'm not sure I would have gotten much from it back in the dark ages when I was a kid. Perhaps the word play would work for an intelligent middle schooler. Whatever, it was a fun read. The Kindle version I got from the library even had the Jules Peiffer illustrations. ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
  SteppLibrary | May 17, 2019 |
I really wished I read this as a kid or with children. It seems like I would have enjoyed it more. I still enjoyed reading it! One day I hope to read this to children of my own. ( )
  bookscantgetenough | May 5, 2019 |
"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 |
Showing 1-5 of 359 (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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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.
"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
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.

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.

» see all 13 descriptions

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