The Phantom Tollbooth

( 638 )

Overview

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.

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The Phantom Tollbooth

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Overview

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.

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

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" I read [The Phantom Tollbooth] first when I was 10. I still have the book report I wrote, which began 'This is the best book ever.'"
—Anna Quindlen, The New York Times

"A classic... Humorous, full of warmth and real invention."
The New Yorker

Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Hero Milo "didn't know what to do with himself-not just sometimes, but always." One day he returns from school to find an easy to assemble tollbooth and when he drives through it, Milo finds wild adventures in Dictionopolis, the land of words; Digitopolis, the world of numbers, and many locations in between. He is on a quest in this nonsensical land to bring back the Princess of Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason. The book is filled with wild characters like the Spelling Bee who spells more than he speaks. There are silly word plays like the time Milo makes a speech at dinner and is surprised to find out how he has to eat his words. Life philosophy is mixed with tons of punny, funny humor. He is so changed by his travels that when he returns home he is only momentarily disappointed when the tollbooth disappears. As Milo says, "there's just so much to do right here." A children's classic for parent and child to enjoy together.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394820378
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1988
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 35
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 16,260
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Norton Juster is an architect and the author of other highly acclaimed children's books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning film,  The Hello, Goodbye Window, illustrated by Chris Raschka, which received the Caldecott Medal, and The Odious Ogre, also illustrated by Jules Feiffer.  Mr. Juster lives with his wife in western Massachusetts.

Jules Feiffer is the author and illustrator of two novels for young readers, as well as several acclaimed picture books including Bark, George and Meanwhile.... He has won numerous prizes for his cartoons, plays, and screenplays.  Mr. Feiffer lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter I: Milo

There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself — not just sometimes, but always.

When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he’d bothered. Nothing really interested him — least of all the things that should have.

“It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,” he remarked one day as he walked dejectedly home from school. “I can’t see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February.” And, since no one bothered to explain otherwise, he regarded the process of seeking knowledge as the greatest waste of time of all.

As he and his unhappy thoughts hurried along (for while he was never anxious to be where he was going, he liked to get there as quickly as possible) it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty.

“And worst of all,” he continued sadly, “there’s nothing for me to do, nowhere I’d care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing,” He punctuated this last thought with such a deep sigh that a house sparrow singing nearby stopped and rushed home to be with his family.

Without stopping or looking up, Milo dashed past the buildings and busy shops that lined the street and in a few minutes reached home — dashed through the lobby — hopped onto the elevator — two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and off again — opened the apartment door — rushed into his room — flopped dejectedly into a chair, and grumbled softly, “Another long afternoon.”

He looked glumly at all the things he owned. The books that were too much trouble to read, the tools he’d never learned to use, the small electric automobile he hadn’t driven in months — or was it years? — and the hundreds of other games and toys, and bats and balls, and bits and pieces scattered around him. And then, to one side of the room, just next to the phonograph, he noticed something he had certainly never seen before.

Who could possibly have left such an enormous package and such a strange one? For, while it was not quite square, it was definitely not round, and for its size it was larger than almost any other big package of smaller dimension that he’d ever seen.

Attached to one side was a bright-blue envelope which said simply: “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME.”

Of course, if you’ve ever gotten a surprise package you can imagine how puzzled and excited Milo was; and if you’ve never gotten one, pay close attention, because someday you might.

“I don’t think it’s my birthday,” he puzzled, “and Christmas must be months away, and I haven’t been outstandingly good, or even good at all.” (He had to admit this even to himself.) “Most probably I won’t like it anyway, but since I don’t know where it came from, I can’t possibly send it back.” He thought about it for quite a while and then opened the envelope, but just to be polite.

“ONE GENUINE TURNPIKE TOLLBOOTH,” it stated — and then it went on:

“EASILY ASSEMBLED AT HOME, AND FOR USE BY THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER TRAVELED IN LANDS BEYOOND.”

“Beyond what?” thought Milo as he continued to read.

“THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:

“One (1) genuine turnpike tollbooth to be erected according to directions.

“Three (3) precautionary signs to be used in a precautionary fashion.

“Assorted coins for use in paying tolls.

“One (1) map, up to date and carefully drawn by master cartographers, depicting natural and man-made features.

“One (1) book of rules and traffic regulations, which may not be bent or broken.”

And in smaller letters at the bottom it concluded:

“RESULTS ARE NOT GUARANTEED, BUT IF NOT PERFECTLY SATISFIED, YOUR WASTED TIME WILL BE REFUNDED.”

Following the instructions, which told him to cut here, lift there, and fold back all around, he soon had the tollbooth unpacked and set up on its stand. He fitted the windows in place and attached the roof, which extended out on both sides, and fastened on the coin box. It was very much like the tollbooths he’d seen many times on family trips, except of course it was much smaller and purple.

“What a strange present,” he thought to himself. “The least they could have done was to send a highway with it, for it’s terribly impractical without one.” But since, at the time, there was nothing else he wanted to play with, he set up the three signs,

SLOW DOWN APPROACHING TOLLBOOTH

PLEASE HAVE YOUR FARE READY

HAVE YOUR DESTINATION IN MIND

And slowly unfolded the map.

As the announcement stated, it was a beautiful map, in many colors, showing principal roads, rivers and seas, towns and cities, mountains and valleys, intersections and detours, and sites of outstanding interest both beautiful and historic.

The only trouble was that Milo had never heard of any of the places it indicated, and even the names sounded most peculiar.

“I don’t think there really is such a country,” he concluded after studying it carefully. “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway.” And he closed his eyes and poked a finger at the map.

“Dictionopolis,” read Milo slowly when he saw what his finger had chosen. “Oh, well, I might as well go there as anywhere.”

He walked across the room and dusted the car off carefully. Then, taking the map and rule book with him, he hopped in and, for lack of anything better to do, drove slowly up to the tollbooth. As he deposited his coin and rolled past he remarked wistfully, “I do hope this is an interesting game, otherwise the afternoon will be so terribly dull.”

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 638 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(458)

4 Star

(95)

3 Star

(35)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(39)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 641 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    excellent read

    Learning about words and numbers can sometimes be daunting, but Norton Juster makes it fun in the Phantom Tollbooth. Using characters that have something in common with digits or language, the Phantom Tollbooth takes young readers on an adventurous journey in a land akin to Wonderland.
    In my opinion, this book was imaginative, fun to read and well put together. Overall, it was excellent. Children will be taken on a while adventure and learn a little along the way. A great read for parents and children.

    20 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2011

    Fabulous Read

    The first time I heard of this book was back in grade school. I had to do a book report and my mother recommended this book. At first I was hesitant but had no other book option in mind so I decided to give it a go. Years later I still think of this book! It is one of my all time favorites. The story line and characters really come to life. I could not put the book down! I would without a doubt recommend this book to any one of any age

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

    Great

    I read it in 4th grade. It wad great. It is a funny, clever book.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2011

    GREAT Book

    Imagine receiving a mysterious package containing a tollbooth that magically teleports you to a strange world only dreamed about. This is just the start of The Phantom Tollbooth, a wonderful page-turner written by Norton Juster.

    In this cleverly written classic, an average boy named Milo has too much time on his hands. One day, he arrives home and finds a big package containing a tollbooth. On the package it says "for Milo, who has plenty of time." If you want to know more about the tollbooth and the lands beyond it, you'll have to read the book.

    In this book, Juster pays close attention to details and makes this a read to remember. I would confidently rate this book five out of five stars for people who like fantasy, are seven or older, and like a book that can't be put down until the very end.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2011

    My friend has read this and she loved it i recommend to a older age like a 5th grader because of the word play

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    All-time Favorite!

    This is my all-time favorite book and has been since my mom first read it to me years ago! The characters that Juster creates are instantly identifiable and (mostly) lovable. The plays on words that Juster uses throughout the book are just as funny for adults as they are for children. It's a PERFECT book to read at night to a child who is a bit too old for Berenstain Bears/Cat in the Hat, but not old enough to say that he/she doesn't want a bedtime story! Pick up this book, and you won't be thinking about your daily life as a ho-hum drudgery - every single person you meet is a new adventure that awaits you!

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Read this book!!!!!!!!!!

    Read this book right now! Its'the best book ever. No one should dislike it. If you do like it or should I say love it ur right! Every single class in the world should read this book. I LOVE this book so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much. Read it and you'll be in awe.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    Anonomus

    This is such a detailed and well pronounced story. Some people might say that this book is boring and hard to read, but its really not. Sure it might confuse you at times, but thats because its a well written book. My teacher read this book to the class. I remember my teacher would say "thats it for today class" and the whole class would say awwe. There are alot of hard words in the story, but by reading the sentences i could figure out whar the words ment. I truly recomend this book to someone who will acually sit down and read it.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2011

    Very entertaining!

    Cute, engaging story - very creative from beginning to end! Just remember, there's always something new to discover. :-)

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Amazing

    Awesome book and a lot of play on words!!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Best thing ever

    NEVER HAVE I READ SUCH A BOOK: ' )

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    The Phantom Tollbooth By: Sam Han

    I just finished a book called The Phantom Tollbooth in literature. This book has a very interesting setting that grabs the attention of the reader. My favorite place was Dictionopolis. Dictionopolis is a very interesting place because they sell word and letters instead of foods! How interesting is that! The king who owns Dictionopolis is very fat and hairy. His name was king Azaz. Azaz hated his brother the Mathmagician who lives in Digitopolis.
    The story is about a lazy boy named Milo that always wastes time and always seems to be bored but a tollbooth was in his room and he goes in a extreme adventure that he will learn a lesson that wasting time is not a good thing and he should use his time wisely. While in the adventure he has a conflict. He has to save the princesses to have peace with King Azaz and the Mathmagician but there are demons that will bother Milo and Tock so he is on an extreme adventure!
    You should not miss this book because if you start reading this book you can't stop reading so I suggest you reading this novel. The plot, setting, characters are all funny and fascinating so you should read this book. Thank you!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    Krista blakely, eleven

    This book was overall great but sometimes, i had to skip pages to get into action. I sometimes i felt like i was lost in a dark room. There was no explanitory, but that was it.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2011

    Cool

    I read it when i was young and when i read it today it brought back memories

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2011

    Must Read!

    The Phantom Tollbooth is a MUST read cute children's book that will get you sucked in. The book is centered on a curious boy named Milo. One day he comes home from school to see an anonymous box labeled, "FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENT OF TIME" which contained a map and a miniature tollbooth. Milo set up the tollbooth and began driving through the "Lands Beyond." Upon arrival, Milo is faced with many odd obstacles and interesting new perspectives. Personally I could find many relations to the book through the eyes of Milo; a curious little kid that we were all similar to at one point in time. If Milo wasn't enough, the interesting word choices and concepts made it nearly impossible not to stay interested in the book. Though it may be a children's book, if you have not read it, The Phantom Tollbooth is a classic you do not want to miss.
    A. G. Floyd

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2012

    I don't want to be mean but.........

    I didn't really enjoy this book, it didn't make sense and was very confusing. The book was strange and even though I love reading and it takes me like a day or two to finish a book this one took me about a month because it was so boring. I gave it 2 stars because I think it's a good book for parents to read to their YOUNG children. You have to have a weird imagination to understand this book.
    Hope this helps!

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Amazing!!

    I love this book sooooooooo much we read it in groups in school and I'm always exited when I have to go back and re-read things!!!!!!!! An amazing for all ages

    U

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2011

    My favorite book

    I've loved this book since the first time I read it in 3rd or 4th grade. It was my favorite then (even though I probably didn't catch all the puns) and is still my favorite to this day. I love this book, always have, always will.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2005

    worst Book ever!

    It was the worst book I ever read how could you go in a toy. It's so ... boring!!!!!

    2 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2014

    Someonr

    I loved it and it could be confusing at first be when they start their journey to resque rhyme and reason out of the air castle it got so interesting. In other words i lllllllllllllloooooooooooovvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeddddddddddd it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;) ***************************;) *********************;)

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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