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The Phantom Tollbooth (Essential Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Norton Juster
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
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Book Description

3 Mar 2008 Essential Modern Classics

When Milo finds an enormous package in his bedroom, he’s delighted to have something to relieve his boredom with school. And when he opens it to find – as the label states – One Genuine Turnpike Tollbooth, he gets right into his pedal car and sets off through the Tollbooth and away on a magical journey!

Milo’s extraordinary voyage takes him into such places as the Land of Expectation, the Doldrums, the Mountains of Ignorance and the Castle in the Air. He meets the weirdest and most unexpected characters (such as Tock, the watchdog, the Gelatinous Giant, and the Threadbare Excuse, who mumbles the same thing over and over again), and, once home, can hardly wait to try out the Tollbooth again. But will it be still there when he gets back from school?

This new edition of Norton Juster’s classic story includes a special “Why You’ll Love This Book” introduction by award-winning author, Diana Wynne Jones.

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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: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,332 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) -- --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Phantom Tollbooth 15 Sep 2005
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
One genuine turnpike tollbooth delivered to your doorway! This book will boost any child's confidence in reading. I am a 10 year old child and enjoyed this book. I read it cover to cover in rain or shine.

I reckon that any child from the age 5+ can enjoy this book ether spelled by the 'Spelling Bee' or feared by 'The Humbug' it can all be taken in. whether you are stuck in 'The Doldrums or as chatty as 'The Weather Man' you can't stop reading it! It is a good book written for children, but can be enjoyed by adults as well. so, are you going to 'Jump to Conclusions, or read this amazing book by Norton Juster?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful book for children of all ages. 7 Sep 1999
By A Customer
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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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for the turnpike 19 Dec 2005
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
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
5.0 out of 5 stars An old favorite, just as good today! 5 Aug 2002
By A Customer
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great educational story
An excellent storyline which highlights lots of aspects of the English language within an exciting fictional world. Very educational too.
Published 5 days ago by Catherine Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and clever book. An all-time favourite.
I read this as a child and loved it so bought it for a teacher friend. Her pupils were younger than I had been (they are 6-7) but they loved it when it was read to them. Read more
Published 5 days ago by M. Hellen
5.0 out of 5 stars Surreal classic for a certain sort of child
This surreal classic for a certain sort of child, delighted me and my son, now 11. You have to love verbal paradoxes and maths puzzles - not sums, but games about the nature of... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Alison Thinks
5.0 out of 5 stars Do I need to say this?
Brilliant. Fantastic. Classic.

'The Phantom Tollbooth' is one of my all time favourite books. It's the journey that we all take - perhaps not so magically! Read more
Published 15 days ago by L. G. GUDGEON
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic good read
I read this book as a child, and remembered it was good, but I didn't remember the details. I was looking for something to recommend to a friend with an 9-year old child, so I read... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Dr Sarah F. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars stunning
It moves along with a wondrous sense of whimsy, which is very, very.rare. Totally enjoyable both for the characters and for the meaning. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Mikalye
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book, and hope that every child and adult will have a...
I first came across this book when it was read to me as a child. I then read it for myself as a slightly older child, and have come back at 25 to read it again and it is every bit... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rosalynd Jarrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories
Amazing book!!I can remember reading it at school and wanted my daughter to experience it as well. She loved it
Published 1 month ago by Mairi Macfarlane
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic fantasy adventure
This book took us to places we've all visited before but just didn't realise. Fantastic fantasy adventure for everyone lucky enough to read it.
Published 1 month ago by Ian McAnna
3.0 out of 5 stars I tried...I really tried...
Milo is an irritating kind of child - finds school boring, can't quite see the point of learning maths, doesn't pay attention to the things around him and is eternally bored. Read more
Published 1 month ago by FictionFan
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