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The Phantom Tollbooth (Essential Modern Classics) Paperback – 3 Mar 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks; New edition edition (3 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007263481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007263486
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

"It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time," Milo laments. "[T]here's nothing for me to do, nowhere I'd care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing." This bored, bored young protagonist who can't see the point to anything is knocked out of his glum humdrum by the sudden and curious appearance of a tollbooth in his bedroom. Since Milo has absolutely nothing better to do, he dusts off his toy car, pays the toll, and drives through. What ensues is a journey of mythic proportions, during which Milo encounters countless odd characters who are anything but dull.

Norton Juster received (and continues to receive) enormous praise for this original, witty, and oftentimes hilarious novel, first published in 1961. In an introductory "Appreciation" written by Maurice Sendak for the 35th anniversary edition, he states: "The Phantom Tollbooth leaps, soars, and Abounds in right notes all over the place, as any proper masterpiece must." Indeed.

As Milo heads toward Dictionopolis he meets with the Whether Man ("for after all it's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be"), passes through The Doldrums (populated by Lethargarians), and picks up a watchdog named Tock (who has a giant alarm clock for a body). The brilliant satire and double entendre intensifies in the Word Market, where after a brief scuffle with Officer Short Shrift, Milo and Tock set off toward the Mountains of Ignorance to rescue the twin Princesses, Rhyme and Reason. Anyone with an appreciation for language, irony, or Alice in Wonderland-style adventure will adore this book for years on end. (Ages 8 and up) -- Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

‘Think Alice in Wonderland for the modern age. Brilliant’. The Guardian

‘The most unpredictable, the most stimulating children’s book I have read for a very long time. Words, numbers, clichés, proverbs are taken literally, imaginatively or punningly in an enthralling and very funny dazzle of mental fireworks.’ The Sunday Times

‘An altogether remarkable book, one that should delight any bright child, and that will be no burden for a parent to read aloud. Related with unflagging wit and a marvellous sense of the fun to be had with words, this book will be enjoyed by children for years to come.’ Spectator


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Craig HALL OF FAME on 10 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
Firstly, please don't be put off by the hideous cover Collins has plonked on this wonderful book. Inside, you'll find the original drawings by Jules Feiffer, which as as elegant and intelligent as the contents.
No bright child of 7+ could fail to be captivated by this tale. Milo is a bored boy who finds an unexpected present waiting for him on his return from school. It's a tollbooth (it doesn't matter if you don't know what this is). He assembles it, gets into his toy car and the moment he drives past the tollbooth finds himself in a magical land. Once ruled by two brothers, King Azaz the Unabridged (or words) and the Mathemagician, it is falling to rack and ruin because of the exile of the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. But danger lurks at every turn - not least that of Milo failing to notice what's going on. He immediately finds himself driving through the Doldrums, and only Tock the heroic Watchdog can rescue him by waking him up and forcing him to concentrate. His adventures include jumping to Conclusions (an island that looks lovely from afar but it a bleak overcrowded desert on arrival), orchestrating Chroma's colourful orchestra, breaking the Soundkeeper's fortress and learning about infinity - even before he ventures into the demon infested mountains to find the stair to the Castle in the Air.
Packed with splendid jokes, puns and brain-teasers, what is so special about the book is that it encourages children to think about a huge variety of subjects without ever hectoring them. Why is it important to notice details of daily life? Why does it matter that you choose good sounds rather than the ones adored by Dr. Kakphonous A. Dischord and his Dreadful Dynne? Why should you grow up rather than down? What do figures of speech mean, when taken literally?
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By B.Taylor on 15 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback
I first read this book when I was around 11yrs old and I still read it periodically at 34yrs of age! This is a wonderful book with a magical story written with warmth and humour. Suitable for reading ages 8+ this book is full of little moral messages that are very well woven into the tale. Excellent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
Written with tongue firmly in cheek, this is as much a book to be read aloud, as it is to be read. Juster doesn't just use the English language, but he plays and dances with it, turning common phrases inside-out, and around, but never in a meaningless way.
The story is about Milo, who doesn't know what to do, and his journeys through the Land of Wisdom. To go into detail about the story, is to ruin much of the surprise, but suffice to say, he has grand adventures, defeats dangerous enemies, and generally does everything you come to expect in an adventure meant for children.
If you enjoy reading, you will enjoy this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
This was a book I read over and over again as a child. I bought a copy for my eight year old, and he loves it just as much! We have both found the plot unique and enthraling, and it has obviously become recognised as a classic text since I read it originally twenty something years ago, as there is now a teachers guide and it is recommended reading for the National Curriculum. How on earth did the author come up with those characters? I now get the in jokes that I missed back then!
Every child should read this, it's just as captivating as any Harry Potter novel!
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME on 19 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback
Norton Juster's book is ostensibly a children's book. However, like much of children's literature, it contains hidden (and not so hidden) aspects that are of delight to adults as well. This, when you think of it, makes sense--the point of children's literature is to educate as well as entertain (one hopes!), therefore, it makes sense that some of the lessons will be more 'adult' than the actual storyline would seem to indicate.
Milo and his various friends and enemies encountered along the way serve to illustrate many of the foibles and quirks of adult life. The Phantom Tollbooth serves as a gateway to a place that embodies the physical manifestations of metaphors.
For instance, in Dictionopolis (a city of words) Milo is invited to a banquet at which one must eat one's words. Just as in our world, sometimes those words can be sour and very hard to swallow.
Also, while you can jump to the Isle of Conclusions, you must reach the mainland again only by swimming through the sea of knowledge. And the water is cold. It is not easy to recover from having jumped to conclusions.
The interplay between concepts, the tension between words and numbers, the divisions and alliances that are made, the enemies who seem to be friends, all of these serve to make a delightful play which will interest children and adults.
Milo, of course, makes it home safely after a fascinating journey, and while he would like to take another trip, the phantom tollbooth is needed elsewhere for other children, too. However, Milo realises that he has his own tollbooth in his imagination, and thus the adventure need never end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
So successful, so subtle. Good humour and intelligent writing make this not only a fun way to learn for children, but it also gives the importance of learning across without being too overbearing. It creates such a magical world, which in some ways, is more real and logical than our own. However, it manages to feel so mystical and intriguing that it pulls you in. A light, fun read for adults and children of all ages.
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