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The Phantom Tollbooth [Paperback]

Norton Juster , Jules Feiffer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (366 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 12 1988
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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Product Description

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"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) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

" 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

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There was once a boy named Milo who didn't know what to do with himself-not just sometimes, but always. Read the first page
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Concordance
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ABC, 123, do-ray-me.... May 6 2004
Format:Paperback
Let me begin by saying how pleased I am to see so many reviews for this book. I had been under the impression (an impression I now see was thankfully false) that "The Phantom Tollbooth" had fallen into relative obscurity in the last 20 years or so. I'm basing this impression on the fact that you just don't hear anybody mention it anymore. Not librarians or booksellers or teachers or anybody. You don't read current criticism of the book. There aren't huge theses based on its plot or reasonings. And yet... It is a great story with great writing, a lovely (if sometimes overdone) plot, and a merry cast of characters. Accompanied by the delicate illustrations of one Jules Feiffer, the book deserves to be remembered for all time. Hopefully, it will be.
We follow the adventures of Milo in this story. Milo is ennui incarnate. Nothing interests the boy and he has a very difficult time seeing the point in anything at all. One day Milo walks into his room with the plan of finding disinterest there and finds instead that he has been given a large present. It is, according to an accompanying note, one genuine turnpike toolbooth. After assembling the creation, Milo decides to play with it for a little while. He hops into his electric car (possibly the number one toy most desired by children reading this tale), plops some money into the toolbooth, and finds himself in a completely different, and oddly unnamed, new land. It is there that Milo meets and befriends a variety of different creatures and beings. Ultimately, the boy is sent on a journey to locate the princesses Rhyme and Reason from their imprisonment in the sky.
But the brunt of the book, and the parts that most people remember, are the warlike words between the king of Dictionopolis and the Wizard of Digitopolis.
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5.0 out of 5 stars LISTEN, LAUGH, AND LEARN Dec 9 2008
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Since first published in 1961 Norton Juster's classic children's story has known many incarnations - hardcover reprints, paperback issues, audio cassette, stage play, and now an unabridged audio version read by the incomparable David Hyde Pierce.

Few of us did not watch the popular television show Frasier, and those of us who wouldn't miss an episode were soon fans of Pierce who played Dr. Niles Crane. He was funny, touching, affecting, and thoroughly enjoyable. The same may be said of this narration. His voice so easily becomes that of a small boy as well as the voices of the many characters met on a fantastic adventure. Listen as young Milo discovers a strange tollbooth in his bedroom. Then, since the rather bored youngster has nothing better to do he gets into his toy car and drives through the booth.

What does he find? An absolutely amazing place, Dictionopolis, chock full of words and inhabited by unusual characters from Tock, a watchdog, to Humbug, an insect.

As youngsters accompany Milo on this journey they will not only discover the meaning of words but much to ponder, such as "The way you see things depends a great deal on where you look at them from, " Or, they might consider this: "'I never knew words could be so confusing," Milo said to Tock as he bent down to scratch the dog's ear. 'Only when you use a lot to say a little,' answered Tock."

Children as well as adults will listen, learn, and have lots of fun with The Phantom Tollbooth as read by David Hyde Pierce.

- Gail Cooke
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4.0 out of 5 stars Anthony from Richview March 10 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The main or impotnt characters are Milo, Tock, Humbug, The demons, Ryme and Reasom,The two brothers of Dictionapolis and Digitoplis, The King's advisors, the duke and the Spelling bee. The beggening of the story starts out with a boy named Milo, who worries about nothing at all. One day he sees a package in his room with a tollbooth. Using the tollbooth he travels to a different world. He meets some fiends on the way,(Tock and Humbug). Which helps him travels to the castle in the play. They meet other people on the way which helps them solve promblems and questions they need to defeat the demons. The sory gets intersting when they ruscue the princes and is trying to escape all the demons. The end of the story ends when they boy goes to school and come back ,the tollbooth is gone with a note on the floor. The note stated that other boys and girls around the word that needs the tollbooth , because you have learned your lesson of there is alot of things out there in the world to do.i like this book because it is good adventure book with all the promblems the boy have to complete his journey. I recomend this book with a person with goood imagination or a person that likes comedy. To me there were no really parts tha were bad or parts that make you want to stop reading the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Phantom Tollbooth March 8 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A Review of
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Would you take a journey to a land beyond? Follow Milo on his journey in Norton Juster's fantasy novel The Phantom Tollbooth.
The main character, Milo, is an unhappy, school-aged boy bored with life. Milo thinks nothing is worth doing in life. Until one day Milo went to his room and found a tollbooth. He drives his little red car through the tollbooth to a mysterious land. He visits the Doldrums, Foothills of Confusion, Dictionopolis, jumps to the Island of Conclusions, and more. During Milo's adventure you will meet two kings that are brothers and they just can't stop fighting because there is no Rhyme or Reason. Rhyme and Reason, the kings' sisters, have been banished to the Castle in the Air. Milo bravely decides he is going to save the princesses.
Milo has several problems in the Mountains of Ignorance when he meets the demons. Milo figures out that the demons are made out of everything he use to be. Milo still has a long way before his journey is complete.
You will never get bored while reading The Phantom Tollbooth! I really liked this book because it's full of surprises and excitement. Milo meets interesting characters and learns how important life is. This fantasy book teaches some real life lessons. I recommend this book to anyone who loves fun and excitement!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Great book for 9-12 year olds .like a long story, with lots of imagination.
Published 2 months ago by Booklover
5.0 out of 5 stars The Phantom Tollbooth
Very inventive book; I am a senior and I enjoyed it. My only (personal) comment is that I purchased it, thinking of my grandchildren who are probably too young (ages 5 and 3) to... Read more
Published 5 months ago by bettiefraser
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a gift
I have not actually read the book, it was a gift for a very special woman. The book was a childhood favourite of hers and it was one of the most well received gifts I have ever... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dennis Woodcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This is a classic book, and the 50th anniversary edition looks great. Shipped exactly as I'd expected it to; worth every [nonexistant] penny!
Published 21 months ago by Mark B
4.0 out of 5 stars Good solid entertaining story
this one was a hit with my typical non-reader; I was lucky to find this book. It is a bit of a throw-back in the classic story-telling sense. My 11 year old son loved it. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Suzanne
3.0 out of 5 stars World of amazing play on words, adventure and fun
The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer was originally published January 1961. It tells the story of Milo a boy who finds everything boring. Read more
Published on June 22 2012 by Allison Allain
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Tock!!!
I really want to stress how lovely and fun it is to read. There are "scratchy" illustrations of the characters, including Tock. Three, Milo, Tock and the Humbug, go on a mission. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2012 by Jong Uk
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book ever
I thought this book was excellent.There was a lot of action and surprising moments. I am going to get another book by Norton Juster because I liked The Phantom Tollbooth so much. Read more
Published on Feb. 26 2007 by Aaron Postelnik
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Children's Novel
This book after over 30 years, is still a very popular novel. I first discovered it in Grade 6, which was 2004. Read more
Published on July 2 2006 by Anry Ketyam
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic wordplay!
This book is fun for all ages, one of the handful of great children's books that will still be fun to read 50 years from now. It's like Dr. Seuss for older children. Buy it. Read more
Published on June 22 2004 by Luis M. Luque
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