The Phantom Tollbooth

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The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster
Illustrator Jules Feiffer

Random House Children's Books | October 12, 1988 | Trade Paperback

4.8947 out of 5 rating. 19 Reviews
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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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 2.99 × 2.05 × 0.22 in

Published: October 12, 1988

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0394820371

ISBN - 13: 9780394820378

Appropriate for ages: 9 - 12

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– More About This Product –

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster
Illustrator Jules Feiffer

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 2.99 × 2.05 × 0.22 in

Published: October 12, 1988

Publisher: Random House Children's Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0394820371

ISBN - 13: 9780394820378

Read from the Book

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
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From the Publisher

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.

From the Jacket

Illustrated in black-and-white. 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.

About 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.


From the Hardcover edition.

From Our Editors

First published in 1961, The Phantom Tollbooth has been compared to Alice in Wonderland and it has many of the same fantastic elements. But rather than reveling in nonsense, The Phantom Tollbooth is always quite sensible, if a bit esoteric. This is the cautionary tale of Milo, who is bored by everything. One day, Milo receives a mysterious gift: "ONE GENUINE TURNPIKE TOLLBOOTH."

This conduit takes Milo on a journey through a land of allegorical amazements, a kind of Pilgrim's Progress for the intellectual. Milo arrives in (and thankfully goes beyond) Expectations. He finds his way out of the Doldrums and picks up Tock, the literal watchdog. They soon meet the estranged kings of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis, who are arguing about which are greater: words or numbers.

The kings have banished their stepsisters, the princesses Rhyme and Reason, to a castle in the air. But without these excellent mediators, there can be no peace in the kingdoms! So Milo, Tock and the loveable, pompous Humbug battle through strange lands like Ignorance and Conclusions (you get there by jumping) and encounter odd characters like the horrible Trivium on their quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason.

The wry humour, good sense and gymnastic wordplay involved here bears reading again and again, especially a few years after the last attempt. This is, above all, a reminder not to let your mind wander too far, because it might never come back.

Editorial Reviews

" 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

Appropriate for ages: 9 - 12

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