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The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  185,456 Ratings  ·  8,014 Reviews
It has been fifty years—and millions of readers—since the world was first introduced to Milo and his adventures in the Lands Beyond with Tock, the Humbug, and the captive princesses Rhyme and Reason.
Now we have a remarkable 50th anniversary edition to honor this universally adored and deeply influential novel.  This special edition will include:

   • Gorgeous packaging that
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Hardcover, 50th Anniversary Edition, 288 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 1961)
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Popular Answered Questions

713alex Absolutely. I read this as a 3rd grader, and it was a tad bit scary, but that helps the plot a lot.
C. It depends on the edition, but Goodreads has that information in the book description.
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Patrick
I just finished this book with my oldest boy. I've been reading a chapter or two out loud to him every night when we can manage it.

I never read The Phantom Tollbooth before, so it had no particular nostalgic appeal to me. But I'd heard about it, and it was in my house (somehow) so I decided to give it a try.

Here's the short version: Meh.

It's not awful. But it wasn't great, either.

Overall, I found reading it to be a bit of a slog. When thinking ahead to reading time at night, I want to be exci
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Marie Lu
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't remember much about this book, except that I loved it to pieces, and that the subtraction stew always made me really hungry.
Lisa Vegan
May 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children's lit fans, people who love words
My mother got this for us when I was 8 and it was first published in 1961. I still own that original edtion and it is not in great shape due to multiple readings. This is as much an adult as a children's book. Although I loved the story right away, it was more meaningful as I got older and I understood all the plays on words and deeper messages. Still worth rereading every decade or so as an adult, and it remains one of my favorite books. It's a very witty book. I'm a sucker for maps, however ba ...more
karen
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-rereads-2017
JULY

as part of my personal reading challenges for 2017, once a month i will be revisiting a favorite book from when i was a little bitty karen and seeing if it holds up to my fond memories and determining if i can still enjoy it as an old and crotchety karen.

fingers crossed.

so: first things first. in answer to the question 'does this book hold up?' here’s what’s weird. i have no memory of reading this book as a kid. i know i read it - i remember all of jules feiffer’s illustrations and i have st
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Shivani
Jul 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who has a passion for words and wordplay will enjoy reading The Phantom Tollbooth. In this charming children's book, author Norton Juster takes us on an adventure with his main character Milo, a young boy who enters a chaotic place called the Kingdom of Wisdom and finds that to restore order in the kingdom, he must save the banished princesses Rhyme and Reason.

When the story begins, Milo gets home one afternoon expecting to go through the same humdrum after-school routine he always goes t
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Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)
I am a reader, and I measure my life in books, and the ones that I read in my very early years were probably the most formative. You can learn a lot about a person by what their childhood was like- whether they played outside all the time or preferred to stay indoors, whether they read or didn't, whether they drew or played sports or learned instruments and languages.

I, for one, loved words. I read many books with large words in them, and so I was always asking my mother what they meant, or look
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Katie
Sep 20, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: children who like wordplay
I wasn't as impressed with this book as many of my friends. Perhaps that is because of my high expectations for the book or perhaps because of my preferences in writing style. So those who love this book can use one of those two reasons to blow off my review. However, the fact remains that I was not very interested from page to page, and if not for a commitment to a book group, I am afraid I would not have had any desire to finish it.

In style the book seems to be written for a particular age gro
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Brian Yahn
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Phantom Tollbooth is--without doubt--the funnest book I've ever read. Not only did I love this book as a kid, but I love it even more the older I get.

It has enough of a save-the-princess plot to hold your attention, a cast of Pixar-like zany characters, and it's set in a world so riddled with puns it's unbelievably fun.

From the way the tollbooth mysteriously arrives, to the way it takes Milo to a strange new world, to the quest he ends up on to save the princesses Rhyme and Reason, to how he
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Lisa
"RESULTS ARE NOT GUARANTEED, BUT IF NOT PERFECTLY SATISFIED, YOUR WASTED TIME WILL BE REFUNDED."

That is the promise the boy Milo receives when he embarks on a hilarious adventure to rescue two princesses named Rhyme and Reason in a fantasy land beyond the Phantom Tollbooth, which he explores with a colourful bunch of characters. At the beginning of the story, Milo is a bored young man who does not care much for anything, and can't see any point in learning, discarding knowledge and understandin
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David
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading "grown-up" literature is excavating the human soul, the adult soul: a mangled mess of contradictions and self-deceptions, screwy motives and the odd self-adherent logic of artistic creation. But Literature (capital ell) is a pyrrhic battle between message and evasion: one must avoid moralizing outright, must avoid overt allegory, but must never be too subtle, too veiled, lest you be resigned to snobby undergrabs and many rubbish bins. The Phantom Tollbooth is a strange beast: decidedly a ...more
emma
Is this the cleverest book of all time? I think this is the cleverest book of all time.

I so deeply enjoyed rereading this. When I was younger, I would only keep books that I would reread over and over - and I would pick up each one, seriously, an average of 4 to 6 times. I believe this absolute insanity is why I was unable to reread for the subsequent, like, 6 years. But now we're BACK. And it's been a mixed bag, but rereading this was just the greatest.

There were so many puns and allusions and
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Peter
When he left the Navy, Norton Juster began writing a non-fiction book about urban planning. As an outlet from the grueling work, though, he spent his free time concocting the imaginative scenes that later became The Phantom Tollbooth. One publisher’s advance later, he gave up on the scholarly work and finished The Phantom Tollbooth instead. And we’re all better off for it.

Part Alice in Wonderland, part secular Pilgrim’s Progress, The Phantom Tollbooth takes ten year-old Milo on a journey out of
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Katie
Jul 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In this box are all the words I know," he said. "Most of them you will never need, some you will use constantly, but with them you ask all the questions which have never been answered and answer all the questions which have never been asked. All the great books of the past and all the ones yet to come are made with these words. With them there is no obstacle you cannot overcome. All you must learn to do is use them well and in the right places."

"And remember also," added the Princess of Sweet R
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Mariel
Nov 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mathletes
Recommended to Mariel by: puny punners
Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth made me happy. I loved the puns and playfulness. Even a dumb kid like me could appreciate the cool jokes. It's the language of words and numbers in a place that you can actually reach. Not "Learning is fun!" propaganda but "Hurry up, slow poke!" adventure stories in the vein of all the best ones. It's good for you.

I loved that Milo wanted to be away when he was home and away when he was home. No phantom tollbooth ever appeared to take me away (at least that
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Jan-Maat
Well I've had this book up on my goodreads shelves for a long time but had no particular idea what to write about it save: Clever playful little book about a boy who drives through the phantom tollbooth of the title and winds up on a quest to rescue the Princesses Rhyme and Reason. Witty. Until this morning. First I read Lisa's review, then I went for a walk. Then a thought blown out of the bending branches of a tree fly via my ear directly into my mind, that it was curious that a freewheeling a ...more
Book Concierge
Illustrations by Jules Feiffer

From the book jacket - Through the Phantom Tollbooth lies a strange land and a series of even stranger adventures in which Milo meets some of the most logically illogical characters ever met on this side or that side of reality, including King Azaz the Unabridged, unhappy ruler of Dictionopolis; the Mathemagician; Faintly Macabre, the not-so-wicked Which; and the watchdog Tock, who ticks.

My Reactions
I’ve been hearing about this book forever, but never read it befor
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Terence
Jun 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Michael Chabon has written an introduction to a new edition of The Phantom Tollbooth, which is reprinted in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books (June 2011 - you'll need a subscription to read the whole thing), and which prompted a reread.

I will uncritically and unreservedly recommend this book to everyone. It's been my experience that while no singular author or book has ever consciously "blown my mind," many have done so unconsciously, including this one. How can you not love a wor
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Drew
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always read ravenously, but when I was younger, I didn't really understand the idea of going out and trying to find good books to read. Instead, I'd read the handful of books I had over and over again. Not that I only had a handful. At the head of my bed, there was a compartment maybe two feet wide, one foot deep, and one and a half tall, which was always full of books.* I'd stuff it so tight some of the books would come out warped, and I vaguely remember once having trouble getting any of ...more
rebecca
Sep 27, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hmmm...
Shelves: readandloved
oh man. it's like amelia badelia for halfway-grownups.

here's what i think of when i think of the phantom tollbooth:

-people trying (and failing) to feed themselves with five-foot long spoons
-people having to (but not wanting to) eat their words
-semi-philosophical ideas about time and being and the way people treat themselves and each other*


what a doozy of a book! is it enough to say that i la-la-love it? no? okay, well let me add this: i think you should read it. really.

and yes, i do mean YOU sp
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Wastrel
Apparently a classic in the US; I wanted to read it because I vaguely remembered snippets of it - I think I must have read it at a library or the like.

In the end, I could see why it might be loved by some children - those fascinated by language, in particular. And why, with its combination of whimsy and morality, it might be a subject of nostalgia among adults, even among those who may not have loved it as much as they remember in childhood.

Because I can also see why I didn't love it - why I va
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Malbadeen
Feb 17, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of Fencing
I was really looking forward to finding out what all the hub-bub about this book was, sadly at the end of the day I mostly just found it "too clever" and didactic. Think Alice in Wonderland marries The Littlest Prince.

This seems like the kind of book that snooty parents would want their kids to read on the way to fencing lessons while chomping on their organic granola. Always hoping that their ever blossoming renaissance child will wow a crowd of adults with their clever anecdotes and mature vo
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Harriett
Mar 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After the first 50 pages I know this will be on my bedside table for the rest of my life!
Michael Finocchiaro
This is such a wonderful book about Milo and the Watchdog and his incredible adventures through both language and mathematics. Full of inventive language and puns, it makes me sad that Norton Juster didn't write more children's books. This on is abfab and a must!
Christy Stewart
I think this is the only school book I liked.

Puberty had just taken effect and so I was tripping my balls off on hormones: "My boobs hurt. There is blood on my panties. I hate everyone. Does that dog have a clock on it?"
Alex
Oct 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Norton Juster lived around the block from me when I was a kid. We all steered clear of his house because our parents told us he was a miserable bastard.

That's not true; when I asked my mom about it last year she was horrified. She said he was a really nice man and she has no idea where I got that terrible but clear memory.

Anyway, I read this like fifty times when I was a kid and is there an Italo Calvino fan in the world who didn't start with this, the child's introduction to metafiction?
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
Kind of a cross between Lewis Carroll and Terry Pratchett, this amusing child's fantasy is based on puns and figures of speech taken literally. The story is simplistic enough to amuse children but most of the humor would go right over most children's heads. It's fun for adults, too, as I've learned by re-reading it now. It's a true classic as it's just as entertaining and apt now as when it was written nearly 50 years ago.
Ivan
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Someone in a review said “The Phantom Tollbooth” was their first favorite book. Oh, how I wish I could make that claim [mine was “The Story of Babar”].

I didn’t start “really” reading until I was late into my teens; and so, with a few exceptions like E. B. White and Beverly Cleary, I didn’t read children’s literature – nothing in the independent readers or young adult genres. A few months ago I resolved to remedy that sad fact by reading those books I skipped while growing up.

What a treasure I’
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Jessica Prescott
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Okay, so . . . I'm just going to say this right off.

I LOVE THIS BOOK.

I can't promise that you'll love it, too. It's not one of those "classics" that practically everybody will love, or at least like--it's a strange, fanciful kind of tale, and I could definitely understand how many readers might find it confusing, disturbing, or just plain boring. But I read it when I was seven years old and absolutely adored it. And by that, I mean I loved it the way I haven't loved any other book before or si
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Liza Fireman
Oct 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so awesome, and now it is a top favorite for both me and my daughter. I would never imagine that anyone can take such abstract concepts and make them so vivid, bring them to life, draw them as physical objects. Amazing!
In addition, the book brings so many insights, that I ended up highlighting so many sentences in my e-book, maybe the most that I ever found in a single book. Just go and read it no matter your age.

The world is such a magical place, and Milo, that does not know it yet
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Heather
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only do I love this book, but I just finished reading it to my seven and five and ahalf year old, who now adore it as well. As a matter of fact, instead of beginning another "big kid" book tonight, as planned, they have requested that we start Tollbooth again, which is high praise from two little kids with rather short attention spans. We broke it up into litter sections, sometimes stopping in the middle of a chapter, and it helped to be able to say "Oh, guess what, Next, Milo gets to visit ...more
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Norton Juster is an architect and planner, professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College, and the author of a number of highly acclaimed children's books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film. He has collaborated with Sheldon Harnick on the libretto for an opera based on The Phantom Tollbooth. The musical adaptation, with a score by Arnold ...more
More about Norton Juster...

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