How does classic children’s novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, use words themselves as a plot device?

Every work of literature relies on the dictionary. Many writers would say that the goal of fiction is to use powerful words to tell a story without calling attention to the words themselves. A small number of books, however, actually make words, meaning, and language their plot or even transform the workings of language into characters. This practice is called meta-fiction, and today we pay tribute to one meta-fictional work that famously stretches readers’ minds while making them laugh.

This year The Phantom Tollbooth turned 50—much older than its average reader. When it was first published, no one thought the smart, playful book would appeal to children, but author Norman Juster’s exploration of knowledge still resonates with children who find his puns and simple but insightful story meaningful.

You may think of puns as playful slips of language that make you groan, but The Phantom Tollbooth takes those moments where sound stops and meaning begins and creates an entire ridiculous world. Paronomasia is the technical word for “the use of a word in different senses or the use of words similar in sound to achieve a specific effect, as humor.” In short, punning. Not only does the humor in the book rely on language games, but the plot is actually propelled by them.

The Phantom Tollbooth follows a boy named Milo as he journeys through the magical Kingdom of Wisdom. This kingdom has two capital cites: Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. Dictionopolis, where all the world’s words and letters are traded, is ruled by King Azaz the Unabridged. On the opposite end of the kingdom, Digitopolis is ruled by the Mathemagician. Young princesses Rhyme and Reason were banished from the kingdom by King Azaz the Unabridged and the Mathemagician because the princesses said that numbers and letters were equally important to knowledge. It is Milo’s duty to reunite the kings of the opposing cities. Along the way, Milo meets memorable characters like the Humbug, a beetle-like insect, and the Whether Man, who doesn’t know whether it will rain or hail but only whether or not there will be weather. (How’s that for a tongue twister?)

Like Alice in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth takes an impish look at how words define the world, testing the boundaries of meaning, but it also lays out a view of the world as it is: language and science are both essential to wisdom. The magical element of The Phantom Tollbooth isn’t the puns and the word play, but Juster captures our complex world and lays it simply down in the landscape of an imaginary one. So he gives us the Lands Beyond, where fantastical ideas that cannot live in the real world flourish. He introduces us to the fractional boy, who is the 0.58 of the 2.58 children in the average American family.

This book continues to delight children because it encourages kids to think without being condescending or pedantic. Put simply, it doesn’t lecture, but rather invites us to have fun with the building blocks of our world: letters and numbers.

Have you read The Phantom Tollbooth? Did it make you think about words and the world in a new way?

C-Sections Linked to Doubled Risk for Blood Clots; Steps should be taken to prevent and monitor for clots in women at risk, experts say.

Consumer Health News (English) August 26, 2011 FRIDAY, Aug. 26 (HealthDay News) — The risk of thromboembolism — a potentially fatal condition in which blood clots block blood flow causing damage to the organs — is higher during pregnancy, experts warn.

And having a Caesarean section nearly doubles that risk, according to experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. As a result, the group issued a new recommendation that all women having a C-section wear inflatable compression devices on their legs at the time of delivery to prevent clots from forming. In more risky cases, the group advised that women also receive anti-clotting medications (anticoagulants).

“VTE [venous thromboembolism] is a major contributor to maternal mortality in this country. The risk of VTE is increased during pregnancy and the consequences can be severe,” Dr. Andra H. James, who helped develop the guidelines, said in a college news release. “It’s important for ob-gyns to adopt these recommendations to help reduce maternal deaths.” VTE in pregnancy usually affects the deep veins of the left leg. Most women who develop clots in their lower legs will experience pain or swelling there, the authors noted. in our site pulmonary embolism symptoms

Clots could also travel to the lungs resulting in a pulmonary embolism. Symptoms of this other potentially deadly condition include sudden shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing.

Pregnant women are at greater risk for VTE due to certain physiological changes they experience, including:

Blood that clots more easily Slower blood flow Compression of pelvic and other veins Decreased mobility In addition, women who have high blood pressure, a personal history of VTE or excessive clotting, as well as those who are obese or smokers are also at higher risk for the condition.

“Fitting inflatable compression devices on a woman’s legs before cesarean delivery is a safe, potentially cost-effective preventive intervention,” explained James. “Inflatable compression sleeves should be left in place until a woman is able to walk after delivery or — in women who had been on blood thinners during pregnancy — until anticoagulation medication is resumed.” The ob-gyn group pointed out that emergency c-sections are the exception. In these cases, delivery should not be delayed for the placement of compression devices. go to website pulmonary embolism symptoms

Only women at particularly high risk for VTE should be given anti-clotting medication, the experts noted in the news release. This includes those with a history of VTE during pregnancy, a history of excessive clotting, and women at high risk for inherited clotting disorders. All women who’ve had c-sections, however, should continue to be monitored for VTE following delivery, the group added.

“Because half of VTE-related maternal deaths occur during pregnancy and the rest during the postpartum period, ongoing patient assessment is imperative,” James concluded. “While warning signs in some women may be evident early in pregnancy, others will develop symptoms that manifest later in pregnancy or after the baby is born.” The guidelines will be published in a Practice Bulletin in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

More information The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides more information on thromboembolism.


  1. Jim -  January 5, 2012 - 9:28 pm

    Sounds like an interesting read

  2. Scott Ross -  December 27, 2011 - 9:27 pm

    After reading this post I was intrigued. I was just finishing the Alice in Wonderland books and thought this would be a good classic to continue with. I picked up a copy and devoured it. In my opinion the Phantom Tollbooth is better than Alice and I thank Dictionary.com for a very fulfilling read. The Phantom Tollbooth is a book I won’t easily forget and I recommend it to anyone who sometimes loses sight of the importance of learning and enjoys colourful characters and even more colourful scenes.

  3. Shannon -  December 20, 2011 - 9:00 am

    Sounds like a cool book I’ll read it to by 7-year-old kid brother; he’ll need to learn that kind of basic math and reading but with all the fun along with it.

  4. Pig Lover -  December 19, 2011 - 8:59 pm

    Just to be honest, I have only read this book once. I’ve enjoyed reading this with my teacher and classmates at school. As I started reading this book, I imagined what those characters looked like and how they acted based on what I read and the descriptions that Justin made about them…..
    I think that this book is 5 starred book.

  5. DEMACIA!!!!! -  December 19, 2011 - 1:04 pm

    Remember the island called Conclusions? Don’t jump to Conclusions! LOL I loved that book.

  6. avid reader -  December 14, 2011 - 2:29 pm

    I’ve always absolutely loved The Phantom Tollbooth, but another of Juster’s books is my all-time favorite. It’s a clever little book with a big title:

    The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

    Check it out–I know you’ll love it, too!

  7. sherryyu -  December 14, 2011 - 2:12 pm

    kool but i never read the book

  8. fateha -  December 13, 2011 - 10:12 pm

    shhh. because it goes without saying.

  9. King Viz -  December 13, 2011 - 8:57 am

    Also, I just coined “beofre” apparently, my new word for “before”!

  10. King Viz -  December 13, 2011 - 8:56 am

    “…it encourages kids think…” does this make sense? It looks like there’s a “to” missing beofre “kids”, but when I thought about it again I can see this sentence standing as it does, whether intended or not, as there is an implied “that” after “encourages”. Is that correct?

  11. bossrat -  December 12, 2011 - 12:52 pm

    ‘Norton’ not ‘Norman’ !

  12. Dovahkiin -  December 12, 2011 - 12:20 pm

    @Jeff: Meeeee!

  13. Linda -  December 12, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    This is my all-time, absolute favorite book, EVER! I have read it multiple times, and at age 51, I purchased the hardback anniversary edition, for me!! In my family, some of Juster’s phrases are a common part of our language. For instance, we often remind one another not to jump to conclusions, because it is a long swim back! If you haven’t read the book, what are you waiting for? If you have, read it again. This book is a jewel. :D

  14. Elise -  December 12, 2011 - 10:57 am

    This book continues to be my favorite of all time! Read it when I was little, read it when I was old — the charm and hilariousness never faded! I would recommend it in a heartbeat to everyone!

  15. CallYourMom -  December 12, 2011 - 10:41 am

    Absolutely LOVE this book! Anyone with a love for language cannot help but be charmed by this funny and insightful tale. Thank you for highlighting this wonderful book.

  16. Moya -  December 12, 2011 - 10:21 am

    This is one of my favourite books of all time. I read it as a child and am sure that it’s entirely responsible for my love of language. I’ve bought it twice (I made the mistake of lending it out the first time) and have read it three or four times as an adult. I’m sure I’ll continue to revisit it as I get older.

    Love, love, love this book!

  17. jeff -  December 12, 2011 - 10:03 am

    whos home schooled

  18. mhood1 -  December 12, 2011 - 10:02 am

    I hadn’t thought about “The Phantom Toolbooth” in 40 years, but today’s Hot Word brought back delightful memories of Milo, his toy car, Dictionopolis, Digitopolis, Rhyme, Reason, and all the rest. Thank you for a wonderful “blast from the past”!

  19. jeff -  December 12, 2011 - 10:01 am

    I read that book in the 6th grade man it was so wonderful

  20. jessica -  December 12, 2011 - 9:26 am

    i rented this from the libary when i was ten then bought it afterwards because i wanted to read it over and over again im still reading it and im 13

  21. Camila -  December 12, 2011 - 9:22 am

    Is this book a picture book?

  22. HeeHaw -  December 12, 2011 - 9:10 am

    Since when is “journey” a verb?

  23. ffffffff -  December 12, 2011 - 8:43 am

    L-o-v-e that book

  24. Tim Kramar -  December 12, 2011 - 8:37 am

    To be honest, I haven’t read it. But if you like puns, any of Piers Anthony’s Xanth books are a good read.

  25. lynda -  December 12, 2011 - 8:10 am

    I FREAKING LOVE THIS BOOK!!!!!! It has been my favorite since i was a little kid. I have been reding since i was three so that makes me about six or seven when i first read it.i am turning 14 now and it is still my favorite book to this day! Its just captivating. I love fictional fantasies such as this!

  26. JodyG -  December 12, 2011 - 7:48 am

    Now I know what I’ll be giving to my nieces, nephews, and neighbor’s kids this year for Christmas.

  27. Ron -  December 12, 2011 - 7:45 am

    Like Milo’s car, it goes without saying.

  28. Margaret -  December 12, 2011 - 5:20 am

    I read this book I loved it! I was a sixth grader at the time… It had so many wonderful puns in it!

  29. Al -  December 12, 2011 - 4:31 am

    I’m a 51 year old Australian, and I must have read this book at least every other year, since I first read it at the age of about 10, and most recently when I read it to my 12yo twin boys (one of whom is autistic, and loved it). It’s a brilliant book, amazingly witty, and with appeal to both children and adults. I can’t imagine ever growing tired of it. Maybe one day I’ll have the pleasure of reading it to grandchildren….

  30. Nath -  December 12, 2011 - 2:18 am

    This book was just plain epic! I’ve read it twice, and I think the use of the language, made up and real was just a big success. Just LOVE IT!

  31. Mistress Alexis Keaton -  December 12, 2011 - 12:56 am

    I love when a memory jumps up and haunts you in a good way. I too recall seeing The Phantom Tollbooth in what feels like it was aeons ago. It was a clever work then and still holds up, but, my heart goes out to Piers Anthony, whose punny works united my love of paronomasia and high fantasy into one. Bless these authors both!

  32. Jean -  December 11, 2011 - 11:39 pm

    I LOVE this book!

    I just discovered it a year ago, and I absolutely love the story.
    Great work of Norton Juster!

    It’s entertaining and with lots of lessons.

    I highly recommend this book. ^^

  33. MAHAMAT -  December 11, 2011 - 9:10 pm


  34. Roni -  December 11, 2011 - 7:49 pm

    Yes, my friend gave me a copy during my college days. At first, I thought the book is childish, but after I finished it, wow, really two thumbs up! :)

  35. Michele R. -  December 11, 2011 - 5:28 pm

    I read this book as a child and continue to share it with and teach it to the more mature 4th/5th grade reader with whom you can add a layer of learning and intellect. Balance it with that classic “The Little Prince” for kids who think outside the box.

  36. ruby -  December 11, 2011 - 2:14 pm

    I’ve not heard of the book, but have jsut added it to my wish list

  37. Emily -  December 11, 2011 - 1:30 pm

    I talk about this book all the time! It was my favorite growing up. I can see it now on my bookshelf in between Thoreau and Martin Fierro. I agree with Ron, it’s nice to recall in this time, especially going through the Doldrums (tee hee hee) of College.

  38. Jane -  December 11, 2011 - 1:26 pm

    I read this a few years ago… I’m 13 :)

  39. trollface -  December 11, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    Loved this book. Still funny as hell, years later…

  40. Bee -  December 11, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    Me too, I stumbled on this blog and can’t believe there are so many people like me who absolutely love this book! I’m in New Zealand. I loaned my hardcopy years ago and never got it back – but thank heavens I found a paperback copy in a second hand bookshop. I read it every few years. The illustrations I think are among the best of their kind – remind me of Edward Ardazone (prob wrong spelling) being so whimsical and detailed. Delightful to know the book is still available for Kindle etc, and that a movie might be made! I hope they stay true to it.

  41. Jamaica -  December 11, 2011 - 12:52 pm

    I LOVE this book! I remember reading it the summer of 4th grade, (i’m in 7th grade now) and laughing at the puns! I re-read it a bit ago and i realized so many different things that I didnt notice before. This book is amazing for all ages! :D

  42. THANK YOU -  December 11, 2011 - 12:31 pm

    OH my gosh! THANK YOU SO MUCHHH! i remember it was the first book that i read but i wasn’t able to conceive the name thankyou soo much XD

  43. Mariah -  December 11, 2011 - 12:29 pm

    This book has been in my family for a couple of years, and I did not get the chance to read it until a couple of years ago even though I was a little old for the overall story, I found it to have amazing personification and a wonderful use of words that I have yet to find in another book.
    This book touched my heart, made me think, and warmed me through. I doubt I will ever forget it and give it to my futuristic children so that they may enjoy it as much as I have.

  44. Vikhaari -  December 11, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    Wow! A Marvel of FANTASY!!!

  45. Person -  December 11, 2011 - 11:29 am

    Awesome book!!! :)
    Still there are a whole bunch of other awesome books: The Call of the Wild, A Wrinkle in Time, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, The Inheritance Cycle, Warriors, Pendragon (note, most of these are my school books), The Harper Hall triology, The Twits, all books by Roald Dahly, etc. etc. Pretty much no books are lame (in their own way of course).

  46. PHANTOMTOLLBOOTH | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  December 11, 2011 - 10:22 am

    [...] ‘Phantom Tollbooth’ by Norton Juster — Never heard of it till now. — We guess that’s pretty obvious — being an idiot anyhow. — Maybe we’ll watch the movie. — Imagination be hanged. — Mayhap it could be a Video Game – Understanding Nothing, — Has Technology Changed perception or censorship and Blame? — And though we know there’s always a price — what would be the Point? — Again we never read the ‘Phantom Tollbooth’ –  Locked up spiritually and linguistically in some Catholic School Scatological Joint. — Where they taught us only Truth. –>>L.T.Rhyme This entry was posted in DICTCOMHOTWORD, L.T.Rhyme and tagged LT, LTRhyme, the HOT WORD by admin. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  47. orth -  December 11, 2011 - 10:08 am

    A “dictionary” site spells “dictionaries” as “dictionary’s”?

  48. Nichole -  December 11, 2011 - 8:29 am

    I read it over and over. And over. And over. I adore this book, especially ‘jumping to Conclusions.’ I love that part!

  49. gorgia -  December 11, 2011 - 7:51 am

    I love the book and the movie. I first herd of it in my school in Literature class.

  50. Hannah -  December 11, 2011 - 7:30 am

    My mom read “The Phantom Tollbooth” to me and my siblings when we were younger. I remember loving it! Reading this post has interested me in re-reading the book. The main thing I’ve always remembered was the Dodecahedron, the twelve faced man :)

  51. Amaranth -  December 11, 2011 - 6:29 am

    I loved this book. I read it over and over, and gave it to others to read, too! There are so many clever puns and truths in it. Each character is enchanting in their way; I’m always sorry to reach the end of the story. But the beauty of books is that you can visit those worlds as often as you like!

  52. Anonymous -  December 11, 2011 - 5:07 am

    My mother made me read this on a vacation to Florida when I was about twelve and I missed most of the scenery on the trip due to the book. I read it three times on that trip and adored it because those puns and the wordplay was not only exactly my kind of humor but so cleverly done I wanted more adventures with Milo in the Lands Beyond; forget Florida!

    I’m fifteen now and have read this book so many times I’ve lost count, way past twenty times. If anyone mentions the imprudence of jumping to conclusions I don’t hesitate to chime in with “it’s a long swim back!” I learned so many new words and concepts from those books and can now connect them with Milo’s travels: dull Doldrums, an awful DYNNE, Canby (who can be anything), Officer short Shrift, Faintly Macabre (the Not-So-Wicked Which), the lazy Lethargians, the average family, and thinking with an adult Point of View, which I’m finding particularly relevant now.

    Even as I read this, never being a fan of math, I was always more of a Dictionopolis girl. However, the Mathemagician and his magic pencil and the Dodecahedron gave me a newfound respect for the subject. I can’t tell you how many math tests I imagined them by my side. And that’s not the only way this book has changed the way I look at the world. I’ve always been a lover of the whimsical and this book is its epitome. At thirteen I built myself a cardboard tollbooth to do my homework behind, imagining the princesses Rhyme and Reason would offer their wisdom to my assignments or that the Humbug would complain about the work with me or that loyal old Tock would be my watchdog in case any demons came along. Now that I know a bit more about the Lands Beyond my childhood tollbooth in our own world, I’ve come to recognize those demons, like that Ever-Present Wordsnatcher or the well-dressed Terrible Trivium, who did show up a lot on math assignment days. I’m going to keep Milo and the gang in mind if I’m ever faced with a situation involving the Senses Taker.

    I can’t express how much I adore this book. I wrote a short, almost satirical story for a writing contest rather like this and Alice in Wonderland. When my mother said it reminded her of The Phantom Tollbooth, I considered it the highest compliment I would get. If you haven’t read this book, please do. Don’t cheat yourself by assuming it’s a children’s book, as that’s jumping to conclusions. And everyone knows that if you jump to Conclusions, it’s a long swim back.

  53. Colin -  December 11, 2011 - 1:49 am

    On the thesaurus.com main site, this article is currently previewed with an apostrophe-for-a-plural error.

  54. Anna -  December 11, 2011 - 1:13 am

    On the main page, under the link to this blog post, it says “why dictionary’s love this book”. Shouldn’t Dictionary.com be able to write ‘dictionaries’ correctly?

  55. MOHAMET -  December 10, 2011 - 9:08 pm


  56. MOHAMET -  December 10, 2011 - 9:08 pm


  57. Megan -  December 10, 2011 - 5:54 pm

    I remember the book quite well, even though we read it in 5th grade. that year, we also did “The Phantom Tollbooth” play as our 5th and 6th grade play. i remember the drama teacher telling us ” there are over 100 True meaning in this story. so when you read your line to see if there was something deeper.” When i looked, i actually found many hidden meanings. i played The Dodecahedron and The Demon Of Incencerity. both had very deep meanings to them. even now and then i watch our play on DVD and listen close to the meanings. Overall, it was an amazing book.

  58. Ganondork -  December 10, 2011 - 2:54 pm

    I loved (and still do love) this book, it made me laugh almost the whole time I was reading it because it was so punny! (heh heh)

  59. Slacker5001 -  December 10, 2011 - 2:26 pm

    I personally have never read The Phantom Toolbooth, but that line about the weather man really made me think of a line my grandpa always said.

    “We’ll have weather whether we have weather or whether we don’t.”

    This line used to make me groan as a kid, but now looking back it is a pretty witty pun.

  60. Book Worm :) -  December 10, 2011 - 2:24 pm

    We acted out a couple scenes from it in elementary school. I like the part where they’re having the dinner :) AWESOME BOOK!!

  61. Ron -  December 10, 2011 - 1:43 pm

    This is sitting next to me right now! I loved this book in elementary and feel its just as enjoyable now in Doldrums of grad school!

  62. Unknown -  December 10, 2011 - 1:36 pm

    LOVE THE BOOK!!!!!!!!! :)

  63. Rickapolis -  December 10, 2011 - 12:12 pm

    I read the book when I was in 6th grade. It was just a couple of years old then. I bought a copy a few years ago, and now have a copy on my Kindle. It’s a dellight to reread. I’d recommend it to anyone of any age.

  64. Tim -  December 10, 2011 - 11:17 am

    The best book i ever read

  65. Anita -  December 10, 2011 - 10:09 am

    Ha, I remember this book! I loved it so much! It’s nice that there are other people who like it as much as I do

  66. KevinD -  December 10, 2011 - 9:34 am

    As a teacher, I read this book to my class every year. The book not only entertains, but also serves to spark the critical and creative thinking of every student who ever read it or heard it read to them.

  67. Mandy7 -  December 10, 2011 - 9:05 am

    LOVE this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I have read it almost 10 times, and I’m still not tired of it!

  68. blank -  December 10, 2011 - 8:16 am

    Dear Tina thank you for helping me you are a reall nice person :)

  69. Nick -  December 10, 2011 - 8:11 am

    Agh, I barely remember it… probably because I was such a scatterbrained kid. But a lot of the various themes and plots mentioned rings a few bells.

    I may be 21 now… but I’ll probably pick this book up again anyway.

    After all, I’m a sucker for puns.

  70. Roxanne -  December 10, 2011 - 7:51 am

    This was my all-time favorite book when I was younger, and I couldn’t have put it better myself than how this article introduces it. Before I came to the part on how it is similar to Alice in Wonderland, I was thinking of how those two books inspired me to become the logophile I am today. So thank you very much for reminding me of such an important story and the role books play in my life and of the lives of fellow bibliophiles.

  71. humourous -  December 10, 2011 - 7:19 am

    this book was amazing I am 12 and I read it last year I don’t think therea re many better children’s books out there it also teaches people to appreciate the art of language (I already used it but it helped me improve my skills) language is an amazing art which we should yield carefully.

  72. EleanorD -  December 10, 2011 - 7:08 am

    I read this book as a child (I was always very keen on reading as a child, as I am now) and loved the puns. It provides such wonderful visual cues to everyday expressions. I always loved “The Almighty Dyn” and his grandfather “The Great Rauw” – so clever! Also loved the idea of infinity. It’s a wonderful book for children as it turnes langauge on its head as well as being funny.

  73. D.E. Sievers -  December 10, 2011 - 6:56 am

    I have only the warmest and fondest memories of having read this book when I was about ten, and have no doubt that it was one of the books of my childhood that planted in me the love of language and reading, and the inspiration to become a writer myself.

  74. katie -  December 10, 2011 - 6:54 am

    I am reading this book in 4 grade right now. I am only on chapter twelve. Me and my friends think Dynn,the which and the weather man were very weird. Like the book a lot and hope I get it for Christmas.

  75. Kilroyjc -  December 10, 2011 - 4:07 am

    My favorite number is 17, because of TPT, and to this day I will still yell it out as an answer to someone’s question, for my own amusement -and to see if anyone else gets the reference!

    Sadly, far too few people have…

  76. Audrey -  December 10, 2011 - 2:08 am

    I read this book in my sixth grade English class, about seven years ago. I must say, this was probably the most fun I’ve ever had reading a book for school! I’ve always been an avid reader and amateur linguist, myself, but I thoroughly enjoyed the whimsy and fun and fantasy, as well as the way it sort of hid learning inside of that. :D

  77. Sara -  December 9, 2011 - 11:50 pm

    I was introduced to this book by one of my elementary teachers. He read it aloud to the class and I longed for reading time. It was such a joy that it led to my father reading me ‘A Wrinkle in Time’. Another fantastic children’s classic. A must read.

  78. Matt -  December 9, 2011 - 11:24 pm

    The first time i read this book was in fifth grade. i remember looking at it and thinking it was stupid,(it wasnt that long ago) but when i began to read milo was the only thing keeping me interested for the first couple of pages. but then slowly it started picking up and it kept me entertained. the Doldrums, making a “speech” and then eating your own words.literally. (haha) and even the humbug was pretty funny. what words i didnt understand i looked up because i wanted to get a better experience with the book, and looking back now i realized how much of a help it was. I have to admit the puns did what they were meant to do. i love this book

  79. Jessica -  December 9, 2011 - 11:17 pm

    Loved the book as a child and have just recently introduced it to my 9 year old nephew, initially through the cartoon movie version, and then I also bought him the book. It does give you a whole new way of looking at words and numbers, and my nephew found it really exciting. He wanted to take it to his school to show it to his math and english teachers! My personal favorite part is when they encounter Kakofonous A. Dischord, Doctor Of Dissonance and the awful Dynne.

  80. Jeanna -  December 9, 2011 - 10:40 pm

    Also, @ bartimaues djinn, yes, yes that was an awesome book. But re-read Phantom Tollbooth!

  81. Jeanna -  December 9, 2011 - 10:38 pm

    I read it a few years ago, and re-read it again when I re-found it… This is a truly awesome book, though I never got to read it in class! If you’re a kid, you’ll love it. If you’re an adult, I imagine you’ll still love it. If you’re a teen (like me) who thinks all childish things can only be childish, think again! Seriously, if you’ve not read it, you should.

  82. Kitty -  December 9, 2011 - 9:39 pm

    I LOVED this book as a child. it was easily my favorite. to this day i keep having to remind myself that i already have two copies every time i see it in barnes & noble. also, to “blank” who was the last commenter, i believe: the book is meant to be an enjoyable children’s story. the words you don’t know are there to be looked up and learned, rather than dismissed. it is a wonderful book that teaches children (and sometimes adults!) the beauty of our language and mathematics, and the fun in learning. :)

  83. Tina -  December 9, 2011 - 8:42 pm

    Dear blank,
    The language of this article isn’t really more difficult than anywhere else on the internet. Even if it was, Dictionary.com wouldn’t really be the place for brief explanations with small words. It’s rather condescending to demand someone give you a summery that you find more palpable (by tomorrow), even if you tack on a “please and thank you” on at the end. Even so, perhaps you will find this link useful. http://bit.ly/vJeOep

    As far as The Phantom Tollbooth goes, I read it when I was rather young, and I have a really terrible memory. As such, while my memories of it are very positive, they’re also rather vague. It was definitely one of the books that contributed to my voracious love of books, though.

  84. bartimaues djinn -  December 9, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    now i want to read it…

    whats ur fav book of all time?

    i cant decide…mine changes every 5 to 10 books!

    maybe ptolemy’s gate.

    the ending wasnt all cheers, the main character wins again with no sacrifice

  85. A-Nonymus -  December 9, 2011 - 8:14 pm

    This book is really smart and witty .. and I love it!!!
    I want to thank my school for making it as our book report =>

  86. Danny Adams -  December 9, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    I grew up with both the book and the movie, and actually just a few days ago was considering getting both as gifts for my niece and nephews. :)

  87. Kim -  December 9, 2011 - 6:34 pm

    The Phantom Tollbooth is one of my favorite books ever. Swimming in the Sea of Knowledge is a bit of wisdom (and lovely metaphor), so it certainly made me think of the world, and my life, in a new way. The word play is fantastic, and playful. So, yes, it did make me think in new ways, and is a book I highly recommend!

  88. Kyra -  December 9, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    I loved the Phantom Tollbooth…I recall Tock…and jumping to conclusions…such great memories as a child. And when an adult would use terms like “jumping to conclusions” all of a sudden I had these visuals that were wild, imaginative and wonderful.

  89. Debbie -  December 9, 2011 - 6:23 pm

    My 4th grade teacher, Mr. Hinman, read this to us MANY years ago!! Such a great book, and a great experience. I’m off to buy this book to read again!!

  90. Someone -  December 9, 2011 - 6:15 pm

    Super Good book. Some amusing puns like “out of Context” and the wordsnatcher bird. The Which and the Whether man were really funny. Alec Bings and the Djyn or however it is spelled is also very interesting. If you don’t get what I mean, you will once you read it. :D

  91. Kellyann -  December 9, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    Hello, I wish I had read it in school but alas, I did not, I actually watched the film before I knew it was a book! I do not even remember how I ended up watching it, like if it was on TV or at the library, if my parents picked it out or I did.. but I still haven’t given the book a read! I probably won’t until I read it with my kids :D
    I actually LOVE the FILM & five yeas ago I found it on ebay & bought the VHS! This is an extraordinary & magical film that all children should watch! I STILL enjoy watching it NOW, just like Alice in Wonderland- I’m in my 20s- & I wish this film was more accessible to the public. I do not believe it was ever transfered to a DVD format & it is seriously very hard to locate.. I truly & strongly suggest that someone convert this to DVD & make it available at libraries & stores! Why did it disappear in the first place?
    I was excited to see The Phantom Tollbooth presented on this website & I really like the write-up, so it must mean something.. please respond to this post, how can we get this movie out there?!?!

  92. Pixie -  December 9, 2011 - 5:25 pm

    I read this book two years ago for the very first time in my grade 12 Writer’s Craft Class. I thought it pretty sad that I read it that late instead of grade 4 when this book used to be brought into the classroom, apparently the education system has changed so much to accommodate a child’s learning abilities now instead of teaching them to understand it. Children aren’t getting dumber, their minds just aren’t focused where they should be in school.

  93. hi_der -  December 9, 2011 - 5:23 pm

    It’s a children’s book.

    Was that brief enough? /facepalm

  94. Corrie Kartchner -  December 9, 2011 - 5:18 pm

    YES! I am so glad you guys brought this up. I kept trying to think of the name of this book because I remember reading it when I was 8 and enjoying it so much.

  95. Rob -  December 9, 2011 - 5:13 pm

    I remember the Phantom Tollbooth fondly, it’s the Lethargarians (sp?) I remember the best though. Excellent book : )

  96. Ashley -  December 9, 2011 - 5:07 pm

    absolutely the best children’s book! i have a copy that i got signed by norton juster himself! brilliant brilliant man. i’m still using it in my college classes!

    to blank: read the book.

  97. KITTYCAT1202 -  December 9, 2011 - 4:55 pm

    I LOVE the Phantom Tollbooth… I am reading it at school right now with a group of friends and my AWESOME librairian. This is a GREAT book that uses wordplay and humor in the story, and we are having lots of fun with it!!

  98. collegegirl -  December 9, 2011 - 4:47 pm

    I loved it. We read it for school in fifth grade (I think it was fifth…) and I absolutely loved it. This year (freshman year of college), my English teacher had us read “Haroun and the Sea of Stories”, and the only thing I could think of while I read it was that it reminded me of “The Phantom Tollbooth”, except that “The Phantom Tollbooth” was SO much better. On a different note, I’m excited to hear they’re making it into a movie in 2013! (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1632727/) I just hope they do a good job with it!

  99. vballah16 -  December 9, 2011 - 4:22 pm

    OMG I LOVE THIS BOOK! I read it in 4th or 5th grade. @blank, it’s about this boy named Milo. He’s not interested in the world, as he thinks that everything is a waste of time. One day, he finds in his bedroom a mysterious tollbooth with a map. He assembles it and drives through in his toy car, and finds himself on a road to Expectations. He’s in the Kingdom of Wisdom. It has two capital cities, called Dictionopolis and Digitopolis. One kingdom favors words, while the other numbers. Two princesses, Rhyme and Reason, were banished because they thought that both were equally important. Milo goes on a quest to rescue the princesses and reunite the kingdom. It’s a great read and I highly recommend it! :)

  100. Ariane -  December 9, 2011 - 4:21 pm

    I heard about the Phantom Tollbooth for the first time about a month ago on NPR. Though, I’m way past my childhood, I’m putting it on my list.

  101. HannahBee -  December 9, 2011 - 4:04 pm

    I LOVE that book! So fun and interesting!

  102. Kristi -  December 9, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    Absolutely fell in love with the book as a teaching tool. I have taught this book and all its wonderfully clever insights for at least the last ten years to my sixth grade students. I’m always finding more and more hidden treasure within its pages.

  103. Carol -  December 9, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    Norton Juster said that he did not write this as a children’s story. I recommend everyone read it (again) as an adult. You’d be surprised how well it illustrates the world you live in. I regularly meet people who “swim the Sea of Wisdom and come out dry”.

  104. blank -  December 9, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    what is The Phantom TollBooth. Yes I know the info is there but i don’t understand! TOO MANY BIG WORDS!! :( i will be back tomorrow , i want a brief explanation on this please and thank you :)

  105. red robin yummmm -  December 9, 2011 - 2:31 pm

    lol i am in class read comments but the frist one Ale jandro is speaking spanish i have a friend in class who speaks spanish.

  106. Monte -  December 9, 2011 - 2:21 pm

    I read the book without groaning about cheesy puns :)

  107. Dianne -  December 9, 2011 - 12:59 pm

    I haven’t read it, but I’m going to now! :)

  108. Nshera -  December 9, 2011 - 12:22 pm

    Pretty interesting. I’d like to read The Phantom TollBooth! :)

  109. Missy -  December 9, 2011 - 12:20 pm

    I have read and LOVE LOVE LOVE this book… i read it in 5th grade, and i literally laughed 89 per cent of the time. just read it.

  110. Lexi -  December 9, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    I read the Phantom Tollbooth a few years ago now (okay, maybe a bit more than that) for school and LOVED IT. It was such a unique approach on talking about real world facts, ideals, &c.

    My brothers hated it, though, because of the whimsical and imaginary viewpoint of it all.

    (But I loved it because of that). I would recommend that book to anybody – if anything else, it makes you laugh.

  111. Ben Davis -  December 9, 2011 - 12:13 pm

    What fun! I just finished reading this book (again). It is a great book, that can be read on many levels. On one level it’s just a funny story, but with careful reading, I start to understand more of the jokes and humor. The best children’s stories and videos are that way – cf. Sesame Street. I especially loved the taste of the letters; what does an e taste like? Eggy?

  112. Ale jandro -  December 9, 2011 - 12:10 pm

    Voy a buscar el libro ahora mismo.

  113. Janet -  December 9, 2011 - 11:55 am

    p.s. oh, I didn’t answer the second question….yes, I do think it was an eye-opener to the richness of my native tongue…I mean, that was part of the fun of it….discovering how fun our language can be!

  114. Addey -  December 9, 2011 - 11:54 am

    My first memories of “The Phantom Tollbooth” are from when I was about 8 or 9 years old. It’s the last book that my dad read aloud to me and my brother. My dad loves language and turning it on it’s ear. He’s also an engineer and loves the power of numbers.

    I learned a lot in that book. I learned new words, like dodecahedron, and enjoyed even more the play of words. I laugh when anyone talks about “jumping to conclusions” or points of view.

    I can’t wait until I can read this with my own son in a few more years. I still have a copy that I read every few years. I get something out of it every time I read it. I truly think that Juster understood what it’s like to be a kid and even my naming his hero Milo (my low) is turning language to good use.

    Another author who uses language to her advantage and in sometimes subtle ways with her character names is J.K. Rowling. I really must laugh at some of her character names.

  115. Janet -  December 9, 2011 - 11:52 am

    Yes, I read “The Phantom Tollbooth” as a child (and I am 2 years older than the book! ;-) and I LOVED it! I was perhaps ten years old at the time, and I remember it being such fun to read….Thanks for reviving this memory for me! ;-)


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