The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Title: The Phantom Tollbooth
Author/Illustrator: Norton Juster/Jules Feiffer
ISBN: 978-0-375-86903-7

In a nutshell
The Phantom Tollbooth is about a boy who was bored with life. ‘When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going.’ Everything, to 10-year-old Milo was dull and ‘a waste of time’ as he ‘can’t see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February,’ until one day he noticed something peculiar in his room – an enormous package, the biggest he had ever seen, and on it a bright-blue envelope that said “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME.”

It was a purple turnpike tollbooth – the start to Milo’s amusing, eye-opening, life-changing adventures. With a destination he picked from the map he was given and the electric automobile from his bedroom, Milo set off to an unknown land, joined by a watchdog named Tock (who has a large ticking clock on his body. Literally a watchdog lol) and a bug named Humbug.

What I liked/enjoyed: 
I really enjoyed the author’s knack for words which he displayed in so many ways.

Funny but true facts
Milo was first introduced to Humbug in Market Place in Dictionopolis. Humbug’s introduction was this: “We’re an old and noble family, honorable to the core. Why, we fought in the crusades with Richard the Lion Heart, crossed the Atlantic with Columbus, blazed trails with the pioneers, and today many members of the family hold prominent government positions throughout the world. History is full of Humbugs.” Is that funny or what! 😀

Wonder of Words
After arriving in Dictionopolis, Milo and his friends were asked what they wanted for dinner, they said ‘a light meal’ and out came platters of bright-colored lights that leapt from the plates and bounced around the ceiling! What a sight!

He also caused quite a ruckus at Market Place which caught Short Shrift’s attention, who decided to give him a sentence. He asked Milo if he preferred a long or short sentence. Milo picked the obvious. The Short Shrift (who was now in his ‘judge’ robe, because only a judge can give a sentence) said, “How about ‘I am’? That’s the shortest sentence I know.” LOL

Life lessons
In the Island of Conclusions, Milo wondered out loud how they got here, to which he was told, “You jumped, of course.” And that “every time you decide something without having good reason, you jump to Conclusions whether you like it or not.” Mind you, that island ain’t pretty and getting back to where you came from “is not so easy.” How’s that for jumping to conclusions!

I like this life lesson the best:
“…but if we’d told you then (the quest of saving Princess Rhyme and Princess Reason), you might not have gone – and as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible,” for ‘impossible’ can be derived from the words, I’m Possible.

If life takes a different turn, embrace it! “Things which are equally bad and also equally good. Try to look at the bright side of things.” And it’s okay to make mistakes along the way, for mistakes learned are experiences earned.

This is such a great book for the young and young at heart. It is fun, funny and witty. It’s great entertainment and life lessons packed into one book.

I’m definitely getting a copy of this book for myself ;D

2 Comments Add yours

  1. lydiaschoch says:

    I loved The Phantom Tollbooth when I was a kid. It’s such a classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Yeah I totally agree! It deserves re-reads! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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