The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

78%

27 Critic Reviews

This book really takes things literally and the author is brilliant at playing with words. If you like a funny book filled with hilarious travels through strange towns to meet weird creatures then read this wonderful book.
-Guardian

Synopsis

With almost 4 million copies sold over 50 years after its original publication, generations of readers have now journeyed with Milo to the Lands Beyond in this beloved classic that Philip Pullman says “comes up bright and new every time I read it . . . it will continue to charm and delight for a very long time yet. And teach us some wisdom, too.” Enriched by Jules Feiffer’s splendid illustrations, the wit, wisdom, and wordplay of Norton Juster’s offbeat fantasy are as beguiling as ever.
 
For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason. Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams!
 

About Norton Juster

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NORTON JUSTER is an architect and the author of other highly acclaimed children's books, including The Dot and the Line, The Hello, Goodbye Window, illustrated by Chris Raschka, which received the Caldecott Medal, and The Odious Ogre, also illustrated by Jules Feiffer. JULES FEIFFER is the author and illustrator of two novels for young readers, as well as several acclaimed picture books including Bark, George, and Meanwhile.... He has won numerous prizes for his cartoons, plays, and screenplays.
 
Published January 26, 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 290 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction, Nature & Wildlife, Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Phantom Tollbooth
All: 27 | Positive: 26 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Justine Jordan on Jul 17 2013

The best journeys can be those you don't know you need to take. The Phantom Tollbooth, one of those rare children's novels that both delights the adult reader and returns them to a child's perspective, begins in a fug of stasis and ennui.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by SilverRoo on Nov 11 2011

This book really takes things literally and the author is brilliant at playing with words. If you like a funny book filled with hilarious travels through strange towns to meet weird creatures then read this wonderful book.

Read Full Review of The Phantom Tollbooth | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by David Jays on Mar 31 2004

The Phantom Tollbooth is a spry allegory and a call to attention. It lodged in my imagination from the first childhood reading; returning to it now, when my adult working method is still mostly based on procrastination and mooch, I find it oddly inspiring.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Faultline Fiction Fanatics (group member) on Apr 09 2012

The perfect read for fantasy lovers and also those who love to get in a jumble with complicated words!

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by SilverRoo on Nov 11 2011

This book really takes things literally and the author is brilliant at playing with words. If you like a funny book filled with hilarious travels through strange towns to meet weird creatures then read this wonderful book.

Read Full Review of The Phantom Tollbooth | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by David Jays on Mar 31 2004

Juster shared an apartment with cartoonist Jules Feiffer, who illustrated the book as he read it. Feiffer is now best known as a Pulitzer-winning satirist, but his mordant drawings perfectly match the tone of the book. Few artists are better at drizzle, dull skies or a dank dungeon.

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All About Romance

Good
Reviewed by Laurie Likes Books on Dec 14 2015

The Phantom Tollbooth is a book well-suited for the desert isle and is practically a road map for leaving boredom. Each time I've read it I've been able to read more into it than the time before. If you haven't yet read it, what are you waiting for?

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All About Romance

Excellent
Reviewed by Laurie Likes Books on Jan 28 2014

This wonderfully clever fantasy, illustrated by Jules Feiffer, was written in 1961...The Phantom Tollbooth is a book well-suited for the desert isle and is practically a road map for leaving boredom. Each time I've read it I've been able to read more into it than the time before. If you haven't yet read it, what are you waiting for?

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Suite 101

Good
Reviewed by Michelle Wright on Nov 09 2009

The Phantom Tollbooth makes a fantastic gift for a young reader. It is a great novel for anyone who likes to stretch the imagination and laugh at the result.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Above average
Reviewed by Paul Di Filippo on Nov 21 2011

Having an excuse to enjoy this book again, and to introduce it to a new generation of readers, more than justifies investment in a bright, fresh copy...The plotting is pell-mell, although individual incidents never feel rushed. Each segment of Milo’s adventures is just the right length for what it contains.

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Kidz World

Good
on Dec 14 2015

The Phantom Tollbooth is a beloved classic that has stood the test of time. It has been republished in a brand new 50thanniversary edition. This story is full of clever puns and an amazing assortment of wordplay.

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Paste

Above average
Reviewed by Charles McNair on Dec 19 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth is a primer on the worth of pure knowledge, of learning just for learning’s sake...it’s a very moral book, this, an old-fashioned, didactic, sermonizing, no-smile-left-behind lecture of a fable...Any reader who cares a fig for words will find delight here.

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The New York Review of Books

Good
Reviewed by Michael Chabon on Apr 21 2011

I can still, forty years later, remember my first encounters with the following words: macabre, din, dodecahedron, discord, trivium, lethargy. They are all, capitalized and adapted, characters in the novel...But if you’ve read the book, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for...

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Los Angeles Review of Books

Above average
on Apr 02 2015

Like other classic children's tales, The Phantom Tollbooth leaves you with the sensation that the best adventures happen when you least expect a magic rabbit hole, a transporting tornado, an enchanted wardrobe, or a phantom tollbooth.

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http://childrensbooks.about.com

Good
on Mar 29 2014

The Phantom Tollbooth is a modern classic. With its fantasy adventure story, it's a book that can appeal to children ages 9 to 12. It will also appeal to older readers, because of its cleverness and subtlety, as well as its silliness through wordplay and puns. Fun and clever, this moralistic fairy tale is truly a children’s book for all ages.

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Open Salon

Above average
Reviewed by Steven Axelrod on Oct 10 2011

That’s a lesson I still hold on to. Things haven’t gotten any easier since I first read The Phantom Tollbooth. But the book’s wit and charm and effervescent optimism always make them a little easier to bear.

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The Paris Review

Above average
Reviewed by LAURA MILLER on Oct 31 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth is a glorious interruption. What makes it great—and surely what children most adore about it—is not its lessons on good judgment and the importance of education, but its gleeful nod to the delights of misrule and the pleasure of paradox.

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Eagle

Excellent
on Jul 02 2004

This is quite possibly the best didactic children's book ever written, and is certainly one of the most unusual...A quick read for adults, I still found this book a delight, and can recommend it highly to anyone....if you have children who love language and word play, I cannot think of a better book to give them.

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Book Nut

Good
Reviewed by thebooknut on Jun 11 2012

It's also surprised me just how didactic it is. Juster has a Moral Hammer...and he pounds. it. over. your. head. But, honestly? You don't mind. Because it's fun. It's clever. It's interesting. It's amusing...Even if you don't, it's a ingenious middle grade book. And definitely worth reading.

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Pages Unbound

Good
Reviewed by Krysta on Feb 06 2014

Norton Juster takes readers on a delightful romp through a world full of wit and whimsy where words grow on trees, symphonies can create color, and math performs magic. His lively imagination never fails, whirling readers breathlessly along with Milo and his friends...It promises adventure, and it delivers.

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Books 4 Your Kids

Good
Reviewed by Tanya on Nov 23 2011

So, if you (or your kids) have a love of words and wordplay, a fascination for numbers or both, The Phantom Tollbooth is indeed the book for you. It makes a fabulous read out loud but, as with all the great books out there, it is savored best when read on one's own. The thrill of discovery and the dawn of understanding are incomparable.

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Nerdy Book Club

Good
Reviewed by Tara Smith on Jul 05 2012

...I have now learned that this is a “just the right kid at the right moment” kind of book...I love the word play and the endless puns in The Phantom Tollbooth, I love the transformation of Milo from bored-to-tears-all-the-time to too-much-to-see-and-do...

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Joy's Book Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Joy Weese Moll on Jun 14 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth is a nonsensical, very wise, tribute to the power of words with a passing appreciation for the power of numbers...This book has wide appeal with its humor, satire, and delightful illustrations. Don’t wait as long as I did to read it!

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http://www.aartichapati.com

Above average
Reviewed by Aarti on Jan 13 2010

It's delightful. It's witty and fun and so full of meaning...I feel this is the sort of book you appreciate more as you age. It's brilliant in its depiction of life and the important things in life, and I know that it's one that will always stay with me.

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http://pankmagazine.com

Above average
Reviewed by Ally Nicholl on Apr 16 2012

The last time I read The Phantom Tollbooth was a few weeks ago in preparation for this review...By the end I felt like I’d gone through the same transformation Milo does. I love that it still has that uncanny ability to inspire me out of my own doldrums.

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http://www.parents-choice.org

Good
Reviewed by Claire S. Green on Mar 29 2015

The Phantom Tollbooth is a once in a lifetime book. At least it has been for me. Reading it as a child, I had the sense that I had just discovered a new world. Reading it as an adult, I know that I was right.

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Children's Atheneum

Above average
Reviewed by Venus Bradley on Aug 13 2008

This is a book that takes wordplay and turns it on its head...It is a wonderful little fantasy that was fabulous to read as a child and even better to read now that I am an adult.

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Reader Rating for The Phantom Tollbooth
90%

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Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

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