The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Published: 1961

Genre: middle grade fantastical fiction

Length: 256 pages

Setting: the Kingdom of Wisdom, 1950s in our world

Interest: I had read this book to Mr. Curiosity (see my original review here) and thought Miss Adventure would enjoy the book as well. It’s been long enough that Mr. Curiosity had forgotten most of it and enjoyed listening again.

Summary: Poor Milo has a room full of toys and nothing to do. When a tollbooth and little car show up in his room, he decides to try them out because why not? They take him to the Kingdom of Wisdom, full of many interesting characters and adventures. Milo, the watch-dog Tock (he has a watch in his torso that accidentally goes off when he’s startled), and the Humbug (who’s actually a bug) go on the impossible quest to return the Princesses Rhyme and Reason to the Kingdom and stop the quarreling of King Azaz, ruler of Dictionopolis, and the Mathemagician, ruler of Digitopolis. The trio fends off the demons in the Mountains of Ignorance and successfully bring back Rhyme and Reason.

Final thoughts: This is such a fun book to read, full of puns and literal interpretations of common phrases. (For example, when you jump to conclusions, you end up on the island of Conclusions, and it’s much easier to jump there than to get back to where you belong.) Some of the jokes only make sense if you read them since they’re phonetically correct (like Faintly Macabre, the not-so-wicked Which). It’s not exactly an action packed story, but each chapter introduces a new character to appreciate. It’s definitely high on the list of read alouds.

Title comes from: We find out in the last chapter that the tollbooth and car Milo uses to travel through the Kingdom of Wisdom is called the Phantom Tollbooth and it travels around to boys and girls who need a boost to their imagination.

Reading challenges fulfilled: a J in my author Reading the Alphabet Challenge and #12 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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