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The Phantom Tollbooth Paperback – October 12, 1988
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" 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
From the Inside Flap
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.
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Especially if you are an incorrigible punster (do not incorrige), read this book. It is well worth it.
If you want philosophy suitable for a young mind, this is excellent. If you're not above reading a "children's book" if you're not a child, it's still great philosophy, mythology, word play, and creative genesis. Sure, as a society we first need to learn rules, what things mean. But once the rules are learned then you need to learn when they should be broken. Not everything has to make rigid sense. Once a surface meaning is discovered you don't quit searching, you can keep digging for the underlying meaning and learn more about the world and more about yourself. This is like beginner semiotics, early lessons in meaning-making. Sometimes watches tick. Sometimes they tock. Also it's fun!
This book explores English and mathematics, and connects them together in a world of their own. A world filled with puns and wordplay.
Milo is filled with ennui, and can find nothing that interests or excites him. The arrival of a cardboard tollbooth and little electric car send him into a world of adventure and exploration where his expectations are overturned.
His traveling companion is Tock, a dog with a clock in it's middle. He turns out to be both lovable, and offers often dry comments on the situation at hand. I never warmed up to the Humbug, who seemed to me to be part snake oil salesman. Yet he has his lovable moments.
If you have not read this book to your child, or have not given it to him or her to read on their own, then I think they are sadly deprived children.