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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on August 16, 2003
I remember when I first read this book about two years ago. After finishing the 4 Harry Potter books, I impatiently waited for the 5th. While waiting, I looked for a different book to read, but none of them could give me the satisfaction the HP books did. I read A Wrinkle in Time--to many weak characters and mushy ending. Then I read the Golden Compass--practically a highschool-level book; I couldn't understand many of the descriptions and vocabulary. I was just about to give up my interest in reading. Then I finally decieded to read the highly acclaimed Phantom Tollbooth. I was a bit reluctant to read it at first, it sounded so absurd and the title didn't get me too excited.
Well, I was wrong. I was amazed at how well-written and creative the book was! It was a world of language and math--two things I show a lack of interest in, yet the book showed the world of those two in such interesting, philosophical, and funny ways. I cracked up at so many parts. Not to mention the characters were so incredibly well-developed, and the hero was so likable. I was sad when I came to the ending of the book, but it really made me think and look at the world differently when I finished reading it.
This book is a true classic and is now one of my all-time favorite books. It'll have a special place in my heart.
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on September 30, 2003
My father read this book to me the first year it was published. I was nine and it has been on my bookshelf since. I can't tell you how many copies of this I have purchased for people.
This is a great book to encourage thinking, not simply memorizing. Each page contains new language, new ideas, new ways to play with learning. It also happens to be a wonderful story. I may have been too young at nine to read it on my own, but certainly it is a great read-aloud for children nine or a bit younger. At nine, I didn't understand all the fancies, but like the Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland, this book succeeds on many levels.
The Phantom Tollbooth encourages a child's love for language. It paints wonderful pictures (with the help of Feiffer's charming line drawings). It is as perfect a thing as can be written.
Oh, and if you're an adult without any children at home - buy the book for yourself. It will take you away from the Doldrums and into the Kingdom of Wisdom where your spirit can be renewed.
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on May 6, 2004
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. In fact, all that I could remember about this book (years after reading it and moments before rereading it) was that the debate was the question of which was more important; words or numbers? Being an English major I'd probably throw my cap in with the former, but, as the princesses Rhyme and Reason make clear, the two are of equal value. The book's plot is not a particularly new one. Anybody familiar with any basic quest story, be it "Alice In Wonderland" (to which this has many similarities), "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" or even "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" will recognize this book's form. What sets it apart from the rest is not only the world in which Milo finds himself abroad, but the character of Milo himself. Here is a boy with a serious deficiency. He is Maurice Sendak's "Pierre" and he simply does not care. By meeting the residents of a world of everything from words and numbers to colors and sounds, Milo comes to understand that the more one learns, the farther one can travel.
Filled with sly puns and clever ideas the book is a real delight. The king of Dictionopolis is named Azaz. There is a boy who is only .58 of a person and who patiently explains that in his land every family has 2.58 children. He is simply that .58. Things like that. A lot of this books sails swimmingly over the heads of children, while a couple other moments sail swimmingly over the heads of most adults. It's worth it to pay attention to Juster's writing too. Though prone to silliness, the author is equally comfortable spouting text like, "Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?...Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause in a roomful of people when someone is just about to speak, or most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're all alone in the whole house?" I love passages like this. Juster is the rare author that can make you laugh and then pause for thought within a scant two or three sentences.
As I said at the beginning, in spite of all the good reviews this book has received, I still feel that, "The Phantom Toolbooth" is unappreciated in this day and age. Where's its movie? Its official fan club? Its annotated editions? Alas, I feel we'll have to wait until the novel receives the acclaim of which it is utterly and entirely deserving. Until it does, let's just sit back in a comfy chair and glow in the inviting warmth of a book that finally gives full attention to the inner lives of sounds, vowels, and computations.
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on February 26, 2007
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. It is called the Dot and the Line. Another reason why I like the book is the vocabulary is not too hard. This book is also good for you if you have a big imagination. If you're very young and you're reading this book it is not scary. When I was bored I took out the book and started reading it. I would recommend this book to you.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 9, 2008
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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on March 10, 2004
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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on March 8, 2004
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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on March 5, 2004
I really like the book. Like at the beginning when he first saw the Tollbooth in his room. But the end I didn't like when he got home from school and the Tollbooth was gone and a letter was in its place. I think there should be lots of Tollbooth's for every child who needs one. So that way they will have the Tollbooth when they get older and they turn into adults.I think that it would be funny if when Milo got older and the Tollbooth would still be with him that he would go and visit all of he friends that helped him. And see if they would recognize him as an audlt.
I learned that you should not always listen to what you hear. I also learned that you should not jumb to conclusions before you know they are true.
The main charters are one a little boy who is used to think that life was boring. Two Ryme and reason who Milo is going to save. The third is tock who always does not like to waste time and he is is helping Milo to get the two girls.Fourth the Humbug who is also helpng Milo get the two girls.
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on February 11, 2004
"So many words and so many people! They were from every place imaginable and some places even beyond that, and they were all busy sorting, choosing, and stuffing things into cases."
That was from a book called The Phantom Tollbooth. It is about a boy named Milo and he was always bored. Until he finds a tollbooth in his house! Then he wanders into a place where all that the creatures do is lay down! In the story, there were two kingdoms and the two kings were brothers but they each thought that words or numbers were more important. The kings were mad at each other because one king thought that words were better and the other thought numbers were better than words. The king's sisters both named Rhyme and Reason thought that numbers and words were both equal, but the kings did not think so, so the sisters got banised to a castle in the air hovering over the demon mountains. Finally Milo attempts to go and save Rhyme and Reason high in the sky and run from the demons in the mountains so the kings will realize that their sisters are more important than disagreeing with each other.
Most of the story is easy to understand but I don't get some parts of the story. Where is Milo's family? And how did the spectacular tollbooth appear? And why does Milo have white hair? I didn't really like the story because the author, Norton Juster, never explains these questions.
This is recommened for people 8-12 years old because some words in the story are intermediate and some of the storys might get a little boring.The story is easy to get through with the pictures. All of the pictures help the reader with what happens in the story. This book is for people who like adventures.
I think that this book is funny because of the mathemagician, the king of Digitopolis, because he served Milo subtraction soup. The more you drink, the hungrier you get. It was really funny when the Trivium (You will know who is he if you read the book) told the humbug to dig a tunnel with only a needle! It was really the funniest when Officer Shrift arrested Milo & his friends but when Milo told the officer only a jailer can put you to jail, the officer said he was also a jailer and a judge! I hate the part about the "Which's story" because it took too long. Most of the story resides in humor and some parts are depressing. It was confusing the first time I read it, but I found funny parts that amazed me. I also think that this book has a dull picture in the front but the story is exciting. The part that attracted me was the map in the front pages. It looked so nice that I decided to read this book. Even if the cover looks tiring, you should not ignore it!
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on January 13, 2004
A Review of
The Phantom Toll Booth
What would do if a mysterious toll both appeared in your room that could take you to a place that did not exist? That happens to Milo in this funny book called The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster.
Milo is young boy who is bored with everything in his life. One day Milo comes back from school and finds a box in his room. He opens up the box and finds a toll booth inside with a map and two tokens so that he can operate the toll booth. Milo figures he has nothing better to do than to try it out, so he hops into his car and drives through it. He then looks around and sees a different world. Milo drives along the road until he makes a wrong turn into the Doldrums. When he is there he finds a watch dog and takes him with him. The watch dog, named Tock, had a clock on his side and he could talk. Tock told him where to go and they ended up at Dictionopolis. The king banished two people called Rhyme and Reason who made everything right. The king sent Milo, Tock, and The Humbug on a journey to rescue Rhyme and Reason so that everything would be right again in his kingdom.
The Phantom Toll booth is a great book. It's funny and suspenseful. I would recommend this book to people of all ages.
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