Book Concierge's Reviews > The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
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it was amazing
bookshelves: children-s-literature, classic, concierge, dogs, library, philosophy, politics, relationships

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 before. I’m so glad I finally got to it! It is an absolute delight. I love Milo – a boy “who didn’t know what to do with himself” – and his spirit of adventure. Boredom may have led him to the Doldrums, but his thinking brain gets him through the magical Kingdom of Wisdom, across the Valley of Sound, up the Mountains of Ignorance to the Castle in the Air, to rescue the imprisoned Princesses Rhyme and Reason and return them to the Kingdom.

What I find particularly delightful is the way Juster plays with words and ideas. Introducing readers (young and old) to some lofty ideas and imparting more than a little wisdom along the way. I kept jotting down quotable passages. For example:

”I never knew words could be so confusing,” Milo said to Tock as he bent down to scratch the dog’s ear. “Only when you use a lot to say a little,” answered Tock.

“…that explains why today people use as many words as they can and think themselves very wise for doing so. For always remember that while it is wrong to use too few, it is often far worse to use too many.”

“The most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what’s in between, and [people] took great pleasure in doing just that. Then one day someone discovered that if you walked as fast as possible and looked at nothing but your shoes you would arrive at your destination much more quickly. Soon everyone was doing it. They all rushed down the avenues and hurried along the boulevards seeing nothing of the wonders and beauties of their city as they went.”

“Infinity is a dreadfully poor place. They can never manage to make ends meet.”


Children will enjoy the adventure and fantastical characters, and hardly notice how their vocabularies are expanding. Adults will enjoy it even more for the intelligent use of words. It’s been over fifty years since this book was first published, but I feel certain it will remain popular for at least another fifty years.


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Re-read 18July15 and found it just as delightful as the first time!
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 14, 2015 – Finished Reading
February 17, 2015 – Shelved
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: children-s-literature
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: classic
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: concierge
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: dogs
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: library
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: politics
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: philosophy
February 17, 2015 – Shelved as: relationships

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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Heather L I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did!


Mara My favorite book! :)


message 3: by Skip (new)

Skip Me too!! It's just wonderful. I bought the annotated version and need to find the time to read it.


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