Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

thTitle: The Phantom Tollbooth

Author:  Norton Juster

Illustrator:  Jules Feiffer

Publisher:  Yearling

Genre:  Children’s fiction

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

So imagine Milo’s surprise as one day a large box, bigger than any box he’s ever seen – and then learns that inside is an instruction manual and parts to make a tollbooth. And not just any tollbooth – a supposed “phantom” tollbooth that supposedly leads to “mysterious lands”. And THEN finds out that what the box says is true! Milo is a bored boy who doesn’t know what to do with anything. He longs to be out of school when he’s in, and when he’s out he longs to be in. He doesn’t know what to do with any of his toys, even though his room is full of them. He doesn’t understand the point of numbers, words, school, or any sort of thing like that.

So, like any person like him would do, he drives his car (don’t ask me why a kid would have an automobile, I haven’t the slightest idea.) through the tollbooth. This is all after, of course, he randomly picks his destination from a strange map. He finds himself on the road to Dictionopolis, the land where words and letters are grown like fruit on trees. On his way, he meets a watchdog named Tock (who, by the way, has a clock for a body) who soon agrees to come with Milo on his journey. When they get to the great kingdom of dictionopolis, they find thing are very different. No one uses numbers and they soon find out why. Milo, Tock, and their new companion, the Humbug, set out on a quest to free Rhyme and Reason, the previous keepers of the peace in the kingdom of wisdom. Along the way they visit other strange lands such as Digitopolis (the land of numbers), the Forest of Sight (home of the color conductors), and Conclusions (you get there by jumping). They face many dangers and perils on their quest and the story comes to a melancholy, yet satisfying ending for all.

This is a quirky, funny, exiting story that will make you look at quite a few things differently. This book was on my book list for school and it just so happened to be in my bookshelf, sitting there, waiting for me to read it. I must confess I’m glad I did. This is a very easy story to read. I read it in less than a day, but I’m freakishly addicted to reading so sometimes I can understate the length of a book. But, nonetheless, I’m certain that this book can be tackled by young readers. I would recommend this book to readers eight to thirteen.

Posted by: Fred Reads


1 Comment

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One response to “Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

  1. Fred,

    I LOVE this review. I especially like your introduction and the way that the quote from the book leads into your own thoughts. Superb writing.

    I must confess that I have never read the Phantom Tollbooth. Its now on my list.


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