The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster tells the story of young Milo, who thought that learning was useless and never stopped to smell the roses. Milo only focused on getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. And when he did reach Point B, all he would do was lie around and complain that he was bored.

Until one day, Milo finds a mysterious package in his room addressed to ‘Milo, who has plenty of time’ Milo, having nothing better to do, opens the strange gift. Inside, is a tollbooth, instructions, rules, coins, cautionary signs, and a map. Milo pays the tollbooth and drives his toy car to a very strange and confusing place.

After traveling past the city of Expectations (where everyone starts out but few go beyond), he meets Officer Short Shrift, who thinks everyone is guilty and won’t believe otherwise; the Whether Man, who never comes to a decision; the Which, who was sentenced to jail for abusing words; and many more. Milo realizes that the only only way to bring peace and order to the Kingdoms of Wisdom is to rescue the Princess of Sweet Rhyme and the Princess of Pure Reason.To accomplish this, Milo and his loyal friends Tock (a watchdog who goes tick) and the Humbug (a boastful beetle who doesn’t like to learn) have to travel up the Mountains of Ignorance and rescue the princesses from the Castle in the Air.

During Milo’s journey he’ll learn decisiveness, the importance of hard work, the value of time, that things aren’t always as they seem, and that it’s worth the effort to gain some new knowledge. Every character and setting in The Phantom Tollbooth has a clever meaning, and people like Alec Bings and Canby have very insightful wisdom to share. The Phantom Tollbooth is a very creative book, and I would highly recommend it.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

phantom_tollbooth_coverThe Phantom Tollbooth is a classic novel in which everything is taken seriously, and misinterpretations are common. There is an Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping) and a car that goes without saying.

There is a young boy named Milo. He is always bored and has extra time. Then, one day a package arrives in Milo’s room, addressed to “Milo, who has plenty of time.” Inside is a genuine turnpike tollbooth. Milo hops in his car and drives through the tollbooth, beginning his journey to the Lands Beyond.

On his travels, he meets the whether man (after all, it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what kind of weather there will be), Tock, the watchdog (who goes tickticktick), the Humbug, and many, many more. He embarks on a great journey to The Castle in the Air to bring back the princesses Pure Reason and Sweet Rhyme. He faces many challenges, comes face-to-face with monsters like the demon of insincerity and the Terrible Trivium. His friends help him along the way and come forth to help him face the demons, even Canby (who went to show that he was as brave as can be but stayed back to show that he was as cowardly as can be). When Milo returns back home, he begins to enjoy his life, and realizes that there is always something to do right there.

The Phantom Tollbooth is a great book that has been enjoyed by readers of all ages for over 50 years. I recommend reading it, because you will never know what comes next.

-Linna C., 7th grade