Dec 152013

Title: The Phantom Tollbooth

by Norton Juster

Phantom Tollbooth

The Humbug has to be read with a voice like W.C. Fields


Milo is dreadfully bored with everything until a mysterious tollbooth appears in his room and he is transported to a fantastic world where words and numbers take on literal meaning and idioms come to life. Tock, the watchdog, and the Humbug join him in his travels. The trio meet many fantastical characters on their journey to save the princesses Rhyme and Reason from their imprisonment.

Appropriate for:

Ages 8 and up

There is a lot of clever word play throughout the book that younger audiences might not understand. However, the story can engage kids on several different levels, so if you start at an early age you’ll want to revisit the book again and again to see how much more they pick up on as their understanding develops.

Content Warnings:

There is nothing objectionable in the book unless you consider the humbug too curmudgeonly.

The Scoop:

The Phantom Tollbooth has been a classic for over half a century (no kidding, it’s over 50 years old). While it has a modern sensibility it compares favorably with Alice in Wonderland for sheer inventive wackiness. After all, there’s only one way to get to the Island of Conclusions. Jump.

The book is so clever and its message of changing your perception and seeing the possibilities in the world is such a good one for kids that I think it should be required reading for all families.

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