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243 of 253 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The childhood favorite that's still with me
After my first reading of 'The Phantom Tollbooth', it became,and still remains, my favorite young reader book. I wrote two book reports on it for my middle school reading classes. I even received a copy of it as a tenth birthday present. Ever since, I've read it from cover to cover at least once a year.
As a child, I enjoyed reading the strange adventures of a bored...
Published on September 3, 2000 by Zagnorch

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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cute read
Reading it for the first time as an adult, I wish I had read it when I was younger and could have appreciated it better. Cute, full of puns and anecdotes. I look forward to sharing it with my daughter, which I believe to be a much more fun way of reading the book as an adult (to share with a child) than as a stand alone. For young (elementary school age) children, easily...
Published on April 29, 2008 by Katherine A. Kennedy


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243 of 253 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The childhood favorite that's still with me, September 3, 2000
By 
Zagnorch (Terra, Sol System) - See all my reviews
After my first reading of 'The Phantom Tollbooth', it became,and still remains, my favorite young reader book. I wrote two book reports on it for my middle school reading classes. I even received a copy of it as a tenth birthday present. Ever since, I've read it from cover to cover at least once a year.
As a child, I enjoyed reading the strange adventures of a bored Milo embarking on his legendary quest. As an adult, I enjoy the tome's play on words, such as the Whether man ("It's more important to know whether there will be weather, rather than what the weather will be") and the Isle of Conclusions, a place you have to jump to to get there. I also love the book's personifying such abstract concepts as statistics, like the (literally) half a child that Milo meets who's the end result of the average family having 2.58 children. It also has neat takes on people's points of view, like the boy who grows down, rather than up. Needless to say, it's pretty apparent that even though I loved this book as a kid, I appreciate it much more as an adult.
If you remember reading this as a child, I strongly recommend you give it a look again. You'll likely pick up on quite a few things in the story that you might not have gotten the gist of in your youth!
'Late
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140 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable classic of great originality., June 30, 2000
By 
Kikyo C. (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
I first had this book read to me by my third grade teacher, and begged my mother to buy it for me soon thereafter, that I might read it for myself. It was my first "favorite book" (for all those what-are-your-favorite-book questions), and it continues to be a treasured classic on my shelf.
The story follows the journey of Milo, a boy bored of basically everything around him. One day he receives a mysterious package that turns out to be a tollbooth. For lack of anything better to do, he puts it together and begins to play, only to find himself driving in an entirely different world. There he meets all sort of curious creatures, from a giant watchdog (literally, a dog whose body is a watch) and a humbug the size of a person. Juster plays with words as if they were tangible objects to juggle, and continually surprises the reader by turning ordinary events into magical occurrences. This book very much exemplifies the quote (and I apologize for not naming the speaker, who slips my mind at this moment) "The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to get sharper."
Although Norton Juster's tale will probably never receive as much wild acclaim as the Harry Potter series, The Phantom Tollbooth nevertheless exhibits its own quiet charm. It is full of original characters and entertaining events, and I heartily recommend it for any child, or adult for that matter, who would like to be amused for a few hours on a rainy afternoon - especially if you think there's nothing to do! It is a wonderful book to read to a child, and the simple black and white drawings scattered throughout the text belie the vivid pictures that Juster paints with his words.
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322 of 346 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “WELCOME TO EXPECTATIONS”, April 22, 2006
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
Milo’s bored with everything

And couldn’t see the reason

For learning math or spelling bees

No matter what the season

At home one day he found a box

Not round, but not quite square

ONE GENU-INE TURNPIKE TOLLBOOTH

The label did declare

Intrigued, he jumped into his car

Although this was a toy

Through the tollbooth he then passed,

One jaded little boy

He found himself quite somewhere else

It happened very fast

“WELCOME TO EXPECTATIONS”

said a signpost that he passed

But in this land there was a feud

Between two stubborn brothers

One thought words were number one

While numbers were the other’s

Milo, Humbug, faithful Tock

Must help to set things straight

Get Rhyme and Reason to return

so the feuding will abate

The brilliance of this story lies

In the author’s verbal skill

The places and the characters

Provide a learning thrill

The characters are wonderful

The plotline never dull

You’ll read this story several times

Until your brain is full

So if you are a child at heart

From two to ninety two

I strongly recommend this one

To you, and you, and you

Amanda Richards, April 22, 2006
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful new edition, October 28, 2011
By 
For those of us who grew up with battered and much-read copies of The Phantom Tollbooth, and who will never think the same way again about phrases like "jumping to conclusions," "half baked ideas," or "spelling bees," it's time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this delightful book. The unforgettable adventures of Milo as he travels to the Land Beyond (in a car that "goes without saying") are being re-released in a beautiful hardback edition. The wonderful pen and ink sketches of Jules Feiffer still dot the landscape of the book, and a new foreword by the author tells the story of how this book came to be.

Adults for whom this book transports them back to childhood will particularly appreciate the wonderful collection of "celebrations" of The Phantom Tollbooth that appear at the end of the book. Some are written by respected children's authors, one is by a professor at Harvard Law School, another by a retired 5th grade teacher. Pulitzer prize winner Michael Chabon explores the importance of Mr. Juster's "acts of punmenship;" Maria Nikolajeva speaks of the crucial influence of this book on her life under the Soviet regime; Pat Scales reminds us to "Never underestimate the intelligence of children." Mo Willems opens his comments thus, "I have the great fortune to enjoy a regular occasional lunch with Mr. Norton Juster. Trust me, you need a great fortune to have lunch with Norton, because he never picks up the tab."

Fifty years after its original printing, this book is just as fresh and delightful as ever. Its word plays are just as surprising, its encouragement of curiosity and warning against ignorance just as pertinent. Whether you're starting into your fifteenth reading of this book or are one of the lucky readers picking it up for the first time, you're in for a treat.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Phantom Tollbooth; A Review, November 22, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
The book The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is a magnificent story filled with word plays and idioms taken literally.
The story starts off with a boy named Milo who is always bored with whatever he is doing. One day, while in his room he see a large box. He opens, and quickly realizes it is the contents for making a tollbooth. The only thing that came with it was a little map and a note saying,"Easily assembled at home, and for use by those who have never traveled in the lands beyond." Milo decides that since has nothing better to do he might as well build the tollbooth and go through it. What follows is a epic adventure filled with strange characters, like the Watchdog, and the Humbug. There are also odd places like the Dictionopolis and the Doldrums. There aren't enough superlatives for this book. Although it is written in a fun way like a children's book, it is not, due to a lot of sophisticated terms. It is a very good book and I would recommend it to most people over ten years old.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest children's book I have ever read, September 21, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
I remember reading Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth" when I was in third grade and liking it for its adventure, its characters, and its wordplay (though I missed most of it that time around). I've kept the same copy over the years - both covers have fallen off, but I have fond memories of it. About a week ago I took it off the shelf and read it again because I was bored (much like Milo, the book's main character, was when he first stepped into the Tollbooth). What I found was a splendid allegorical story that has a refreshing lookout on life quite different from that preached by most children's fantasy. The genre of escapist fantasy, fueled by claims that as long as one has imagination one doesn't have to do anything, is debunked by this book. Its last words are "I would like to make another trip, but I really don't know when I'll have the time. There's just so much to do right here."
The wordplay in this book approaches Carollian proportions in parts. The descriptions of the demons near the end (including such monstrosities as the Horrible Hopping Hindsight, a "most unpleasant fellow whose eyes were in the rear and whose rear was out in front... he invariably leapt before he looked and never cared where he was going as long as he knew why he shouldn't have gone to where he'd been") are wonderfully clever and illustrate the worse sides of human nature very well. Other characters - Alec Bings (he sees through things); the fat/thin/tiny/giant man, Dr. Dischord and the Awful DYNNE; Chroma the color conductor; the Spelling Bee; and the .58 of a boy (he's one of the 2.58 children the average family has) are all so well done that one finds oneself reading their parts over and over again with a grin on one's face.
Though the allegory becomes too simple as one grows older, it should be returned to over and over again just to see if you missed anything the last time around. It was only recently that I noticed the wonderful line "Is everybody who lives in Ignorance as bad as you?"
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent fantasy classic, April 7, 2001
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
What a wonderful book! Somewhere between Alice In Wonderland and a deluxe dictionary, this book is a wordy phenomena that will amuse kids and adults alike. Word jokes abound, alongside math jokes and the quintessential quest. (Did I just say that?)
Milo is a young boy who is bored -- we know virtually nothing of his life other than that, but it's enough. One day a little purple tollbooth with accompanying car appear where he lives, and out of boredom takes a little trip through the tollbooth. But soon he finds himself in a place unlike any other.
Mired in the doldrums, where the potatolike inhabitants laze around, Milo meets Tock the watchdog, who proceeds to take him to Dictionopolis. After a few run-ins with the bizarre local inhabitants (enormous insect the Spelling Bee, the dignified Humbug, the square cop) he is informed by the Which that Rhyme and Reason, two beautiful and wise princesses, are missing. Until they are returned, the kings of mathematics and words will continue to clash and there will be constant disharmony.
So Milo, being the hero, is sent off with the Humbug and Tock to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Along the way he encounters a menagerie of strange creatures and situations, like the kingdom where speaking is impossible. Or the Horrible DYNNE, a smoky monster who loves horrible noises. Contradictory Canby. The "shortest tall man," "tallest short man," "thinnest fat man," and so forth who are all the same man. The demons are truly chilling as Milo and his friends reach the end of their journey. And many, many more!
This book's appeal is not limited to kids. Many of the sly word jokes may be caught mainly by adults, but even if you do not understand one they will still entertain. The book is written with a little too little detail, but the sweet illustrations make up for any lack of wordiness. The teachings near the end are carefully woven for young readers (though some adults could use the message) but don't become heavy-handed in their delivery.
The characters are great. Cool-headed, rational Milo could be any one of us from the way he tries to deal with his sitations. Tock, the very patient watchdog, is a wonderful character full of pizzazz; yet you know he has something of a soppy heart underneath. The Humbug is simply a delightfully skewed character.
Fans of Lewis Carroll, witty satire, and/or original fantasy should check this out immediately!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've read it about 45 times!, November 30, 1999
By 
Kelly Tieger (Connecticut, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book. I've read it so many times that I practically memorized it! It is creative, witty, and I enjoy the play on words. The author is imaginative and is clever. I recommend it to any child or adult that enjoys a good book that makes you stop reading for a minute, pause, and think about what you just read. READ THIS BOOK!
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember the Magic, December 20, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
I first encountered THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH when I was in second grade, and now, as a 27 year-old Ph.D. candidate, I cherish this book more and more. I read it at least once yearly to remind myself of the blessings of the imagination. THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH stresses the importance of education and applied critical thought in a charming manner. More importantly, it shows the dangers of blind, thoughtless existence and contrasts those to the fantastical beauty of the creatively engaged individual. This book tops my gift list for friends and family of all ages.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A feast for the imagination! (And I told the author, too.), October 19, 2001
By 
Just Bill (Grand Rapids, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Phantom Tollbooth (Paperback)
It's nearly impossible to heap too much praise on The Phantom Tollbooth. I read it for the first time 30+ years ago and I never, ever forgot it. I still read it -- and I'm 41 years old!
One of the biggest thrills of my life (okay, so maybe I lead a sheltered life) was actually meeting the author, Norton Juster, on a book signing tour in the Milwaukee area about four years ago. After raptly listening to him read his favorite passages from the book, I walked up to his table, shook his hand and said, "I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed this book since I first read it three decades ago. It's still one of my favorite books. Thank you for writing it."
I know that wasn't the most eloquent thing I could have said, but I was completely in awe. Norton Juster is an almost mythical author to me and his book The Phantom Tollbooth is legendary. The only thing that could have affected me more is if I'd met Crockett Johnson, author of Harold and the Purple Crayon. (That's the other kids' book that touched my soul and helped shape my soul.)
Anyway, Mr. Juster signed the hardcover "anniversary edition" of The Phantom Tollbooth and I went on my way, smiling as broadly as if I'd just won the lottery.
It's hard to describe the plot of The Phantom Tollbooth and do justice to its puns, literary style and mind-bending, imaginative scenarios. Basically, it's the story of a young boy named Milo who finds everything boring in life -- until he discovers a toy car that takes him on an incredible journey to a land sharply divided into the land of numbers and the land of words. The characters he meets along the way are among the most clever and memorable I've ever read. And the narrative is razor sharp, with plays on words flying fast and furious.
Simply put, The Phantom Tollbooth is a feast for the imagination, a seven course meal for the mind, pure nourishment for the soul.
Sure, this is considered a kids' book. Yet, there is still enough depth and complexity and entertainment to keep adults on their toes as well.
If you're an adult who's never read The Phantom Tollbooth, go buy a copy. (Or order one from Amazon if you're shy about being seen buying one at your local bookstore.) If you have kids, do them a huge favor and give a copy to them (I'd tell you to read it to them, but some of the plays on words can only be discovered by seeing the words in print; they need to read it for themselves to fully appreciate it).
There aren't many books around this intelligent and fun -- especially for kids. Do yourself a huge favor and order a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth today...and rediscover your imagination.
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The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (Hardcover - 1989)
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