The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster, Jules Feiffer

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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!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375985294
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 01/26/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 21,263
Lexile: 1000L (what's this?)
File size: 20 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter I: Milo

There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself — not just sometimes, but always.

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. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he’d bothered. Nothing really interested him — least of all the things that should have.

“It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,” he remarked one day as he walked dejectedly home from school. “I 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.” And, since no one bothered to explain otherwise, he regarded the process of seeking knowledge as the greatest waste of time of all.

As he and his unhappy thoughts hurried along (for while he was never anxious to be where he was going, he liked to get there as quickly as possible) it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty.

“And worst of all,” he continued sadly, “there’s nothing for me to do, nowhere I’d care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing,” He punctuated this last thought with such a deep sigh that a house sparrow singing nearby stopped and rushed home to be with his family.

Without stopping or looking up, Milo dashed past the buildings and busy shops that lined the street and in a few minutes reached home — dashed through the lobby — hopped onto the elevator — two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and off again — opened the apartment door — rushed into his room — flopped dejectedly into a chair, and grumbled softly, “Another long afternoon.”

He looked glumly at all the things he owned. The books that were too much trouble to read, the tools he’d never learned to use, the small electric automobile he hadn’t driven in months — or was it years? — and the hundreds of other games and toys, and bats and balls, and bits and pieces scattered around him. And then, to one side of the room, just next to the phonograph, he noticed something he had certainly never seen before.

Who could possibly have left such an enormous package and such a strange one? For, while it was not quite square, it was definitely not round, and for its size it was larger than almost any other big package of smaller dimension that he’d ever seen.

Attached to one side was a bright-blue envelope which said simply: “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME.”

Of course, if you’ve ever gotten a surprise package you can imagine how puzzled and excited Milo was; and if you’ve never gotten one, pay close attention, because someday you might.

“I don’t think it’s my birthday,” he puzzled, “and Christmas must be months away, and I haven’t been outstandingly good, or even good at all.” (He had to admit this even to himself.) “Most probably I won’t like it anyway, but since I don’t know where it came from, I can’t possibly send it back.” He thought about it for quite a while and then opened the envelope, but just to be polite.

“ONE GENUINE TURNPIKE TOLLBOOTH,” it stated — and then it went on:


“Beyond what?” thought Milo as he continued to read.


“One (1) genuine turnpike tollbooth to be erected according to directions.

“Three (3) precautionary signs to be used in a precautionary fashion.

“Assorted coins for use in paying tolls.

“One (1) map, up to date and carefully drawn by master cartographers, depicting natural and man-made features.

“One (1) book of rules and traffic regulations, which may not be bent or broken.”

And in smaller letters at the bottom it concluded:


Following the instructions, which told him to cut here, lift there, and fold back all around, he soon had the tollbooth unpacked and set up on its stand. He fitted the windows in place and attached the roof, which extended out on both sides, and fastened on the coin box. It was very much like the tollbooths he’d seen many times on family trips, except of course it was much smaller and purple.

“What a strange present,” he thought to himself. “The least they could have done was to send a highway with it, for it’s terribly impractical without one.” But since, at the time, there was nothing else he wanted to play with, he set up the three signs,




And slowly unfolded the map.

As the announcement stated, it was a beautiful map, in many colors, showing principal roads, rivers and seas, towns and cities, mountains and valleys, intersections and detours, and sites of outstanding interest both beautiful and historic.

The only trouble was that Milo had never heard of any of the places it indicated, and even the names sounded most peculiar.

“I don’t think there really is such a country,” he concluded after studying it carefully. “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway.” And he closed his eyes and poked a finger at the map.

“Dictionopolis,” read Milo slowly when he saw what his finger had chosen. “Oh, well, I might as well go there as anywhere.”

He walked across the room and dusted the car off carefully. Then, taking the map and rule book with him, he hopped in and, for lack of anything better to do, drove slowly up to the tollbooth. As he deposited his coin and rolled past he remarked wistfully, “I do hope this is an interesting game, otherwise the afternoon will be so terribly dull.”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

" I read [The Phantom Tollbooth] first when I was 10. I still have the book report I wrote, which began 'This is the best book ever.'"
—Anna Quindlen, The New York Times

"A classic... Humorous, full of warmth and real invention."
The New Yorker

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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The Phantom Tollbooth 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 725 reviews.
Shanella More than 1 year ago
Learning about words and numbers can sometimes be daunting, but Norton Juster makes it fun in the Phantom Tollbooth. Using characters that have something in common with digits or language, the Phantom Tollbooth takes young readers on an adventurous journey in a land akin to Wonderland. In my opinion, this book was imaginative, fun to read and well put together. Overall, it was excellent. Children will be taken on a while adventure and learn a little along the way. A great read for parents and children.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first time I heard of this book was back in grade school. I had to do a book report and my mother recommended this book. At first I was hesitant but had no other book option in mind so I decided to give it a go. Years later I still think of this book! It is one of my all time favorites. The story line and characters really come to life. I could not put the book down! I would without a doubt recommend this book to any one of any age
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friend has read this and she loved it i recommend to a older age like a 5th grader because of the word play
alexsoccer More than 1 year ago
Imagine receiving a mysterious package containing a tollbooth that magically teleports you to a strange world only dreamed about. This is just the start of The Phantom Tollbooth, a wonderful page-turner written by Norton Juster. In this cleverly written classic, an average boy named Milo has too much time on his hands. One day, he arrives home and finds a big package containing a tollbooth. On the package it says "for Milo, who has plenty of time." If you want to know more about the tollbooth and the lands beyond it, you'll have to read the book. In this book, Juster pays close attention to details and makes this a read to remember. I would confidently rate this book five out of five stars for people who like fantasy, are seven or older, and like a book that can't be put down until the very end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read it in 4th grade. It wad great. It is a funny, clever book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is such a detailed and well pronounced story. Some people might say that this book is boring and hard to read, but its really not. Sure it might confuse you at times, but thats because its a well written book. My teacher read this book to the class. I remember my teacher would say "thats it for today class" and the whole class would say awwe. There are alot of hard words in the story, but by reading the sentences i could figure out whar the words ment. I truly recomend this book to someone who will acually sit down and read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Phantom Tollbooth is a MUST read cute children's book that will get you sucked in. The book is centered on a curious boy named Milo. One day he comes home from school to see an anonymous box labeled, "FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENT OF TIME" which contained a map and a miniature tollbooth. Milo set up the tollbooth and began driving through the "Lands Beyond." Upon arrival, Milo is faced with many odd obstacles and interesting new perspectives. Personally I could find many relations to the book through the eyes of Milo; a curious little kid that we were all similar to at one point in time. If Milo wasn't enough, the interesting word choices and concepts made it nearly impossible not to stay interested in the book. Though it may be a children's book, if you have not read it, The Phantom Tollbooth is a classic you do not want to miss. A. G. Floyd
eshieveggie More than 1 year ago
This is my all-time favorite book and has been since my mom first read it to me years ago! The characters that Juster creates are instantly identifiable and (mostly) lovable. The plays on words that Juster uses throughout the book are just as funny for adults as they are for children. It's a PERFECT book to read at night to a child who is a bit too old for Berenstain Bears/Cat in the Hat, but not old enough to say that he/she doesn't want a bedtime story! Pick up this book, and you won't be thinking about your daily life as a ho-hum drudgery - every single person you meet is a new adventure that awaits you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book right now! Its'the best book ever. No one should dislike it. If you do like it or should I say love it ur right! Every single class in the world should read this book. I LOVE this book so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so much. Read it and you'll be in awe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book and a lot of play on words!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cute, engaging story - very creative from beginning to end! Just remember, there's always something new to discover. :-)
Sammyhan More than 1 year ago
I just finished a book called The Phantom Tollbooth in literature. This book has a very interesting setting that grabs the attention of the reader. My favorite place was Dictionopolis. Dictionopolis is a very interesting place because they sell word and letters instead of foods! How interesting is that! The king who owns Dictionopolis is very fat and hairy. His name was king Azaz. Azaz hated his brother the Mathmagician who lives in Digitopolis. The story is about a lazy boy named Milo that always wastes time and always seems to be bored but a tollbooth was in his room and he goes in a extreme adventure that he will learn a lesson that wasting time is not a good thing and he should use his time wisely. While in the adventure he has a conflict. He has to save the princesses to have peace with King Azaz and the Mathmagician but there are demons that will bother Milo and Tock so he is on an extreme adventure! You should not miss this book because if you start reading this book you can't stop reading so I suggest you reading this novel. The plot, setting, characters are all funny and fascinating so you should read this book. Thank you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I still remember when my forth grade teacher read this to us. It is truly a brilliant novel and will always be one of my favourite books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 4th grade teacher said tha this was really good and that i should read it but i never did do any of you think i should
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is terribly written and I would not reccomend it at all!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Boring and wierd
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book sooooooooo much we read it in groups in school and I'm always exited when I have to go back and re-read things!!!!!!!! An amazing for all ages U
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book! I read it in fifth grade and I still enjoy it in the sixth grade! Brayden, age 12
emily creasey More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 25 days ago
I would have sworn I had read The Phantom Tollbooth! I had mental pictures of some of the characters. I took a class in Children's Lit. In graduate school. But I was in high school when it was published, I taught K to 2nd grade (mostly English Language Learners), so I guess I never had the "right" audience. I read C. S. Lewis to couple of 3rd grades I had, adored Jules Feiffer all my life, so I don't know how I missed it. But after reading "There's a Mystery There" by Cott, I was inspired to reread Phantom Tollbooth. Imagine my shock and delight when I discovered that I hadn't read it and was thrilled to be enjoying it for the first time! It is exactly my "cup of tea" - puns are the best, and figures of speech a close 2nd - the sillier, the better. I can't recommend it strongly enough!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and wish I had read it much earlier in my life.
fnborries on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book interesting. It is about a boy named Milo who receives a package from an unknown person. It turns out to be a tollbooth and he goes on an adventure. He meets many unique people on his journey. This book is confusing but as a teacher you can do many different things with this book.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Milo is bored. With everything. When a mysterious package arrives, he unwraps it to find the Phantom Tollbooth and upon traveling through the tollbooth, he finds a weird and wacky land where words grow on trees a fabulous orchestra plays the sunrise. The audiobook has fabulous narration by Norman Dietz. Recommended for family listening.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book as a kid, and found it just as amusing as an adult, re-reading it to my own kids. I was surprised, but my kids picked up on a lot of the word play, despite the fact that I was reading aloud. Mr. Juster makes words and numbers interesting in completely new ways, and imagines a world where expressions take a literal turn. Highly recommended.