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.