Friday, July 11, 2014

Book Review: The Phantom Tollbooth

For today's book review, I'm going to review a childhood favorite of mine: The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It's such a clever, witty book, along the lines of Alice in Wonderland. If you haven't read it yet, you really must!

Title: The Phantom Tollbooth
Author: Norton Juster

Page count: 272 pages

Stars: 5 stars, All-Time-Favorite
  • 5 = an amazing book that delivers a punch. Read this!  

This ingenious fantasy centers around Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog named Tock, Milo drives through the tollbooth's gates and begins a memorable journey. He meets such characters as the foolish yet lovable Humbug, the Mathemagician, and the not-so-wicked "Which," Faintly Macabre, who gives Milo the "impossible" mission of rescuing the Princesses of Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason. (Adapted from the description of the 50th Anniversary Edition)

Age level: All ages, although some of the puns and wordplay are subtle enough that it takes years to laugh at everything.

  • 1 = mild injuries appropriate for all ages
  • 0 = none
  • 0 = none

Christian worldview: While this isn't a "Christian" book, it certainly isn't anti-Christian in any way. Furthermore, I believe the messages against boredom and of seeing the possibilities in the world around us are important for anyone, Christian or non-Christian.

My thoughts: I don't think I can begin to describe how much I love this story. Perhaps it would be better if I simply let the book speak for itself. So, without further ado, here are just a few of the most hilarious or clever quotes from the book.

"When [Milo] was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. … 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."

"I'm the Whether Man, not the Weather Man, for after all it's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be."

"How are you going to make [the wagon] move? It doesn't have a—”
"Be very quiet," advised the duke, "for it goes without saying.”
And, sure enough, as soon as they were all quite still, it began to move quickly through the streets.

"Whether or not you find your own way, you're bound to find some way. If you happen to find my way, please return it, as it was lost years ago. I imagine by now it's quite rusty."

"Whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way. Why, when a housefly flaps his wings, a breeze goes round the world; when a speck of dust falls to the ground, the entire planet weighs a little more; and when you stamp your foot, the earth moves slightly off its course. … And it's much the same thing with knowledge, for whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer."


  1. (I really love how you write reviews, it's in-depth [without revealing too much] and makes me sure of what I'm going to read). This book looks like a lot of fun. I cracked up when I read the part "it goes without saying". I just looked it up and they have a copy at my local library. I'm going to put it on my reading list right now.

    Also, I just wanted to say I read both the Princess Academy books on your recommendation and they were great!


    Tickle Your Cute Bone

    1. Thanks so much! I like to write reviews of the sort that I'd want to read... because, honestly, I love reading book reviews but half the time there's way too many spoilers in them or they don't tell me enough!

      Oh, that's so awesome! I'm delighted that you liked the Princess Academy books! They're definitely favorites of mine :)

  2. Hey Sienna
    I've just starting reading this book to my 10-yr old son, and he was hooked from the first page. He's loving it just as much as I did when I read it in grade 6.

    1. Peter, that's wonderful! I love this book too, and I love it when the whole family can read it together! :)


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