The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster


I've had Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster on my bookshelf forever and have been meaning to read it for even longer. It is considered a classic. The 100 books in 2009 book challenge motivated me to finally read it and I finished it a couple of days ago.

Phantom Toolbooth is my 9th book this year. It is aimed at young adult readers. I enjoyed it very much The picture on the cover is Milo meeting the Watchdog. Milo is a young boy who is bored with life. He receives a gift of a toll booth and uses it to go on an adventure to The Kingdom of Wisdom. It is hard to explain the attraction of this book so I'll just include an extract. I love the word play.

Milo is in a land called Ignorance and has just met a bird that looks like a dirty floor mop.

""I don't think you understand," said Milo timidly as the watchdog growled a warning. "We're looking for a place to spend the night."
"It's not yours to spend," the bird shrieked again, and followed it with the same horrible laugh.
"That doesn't make any sense. you see————–" he started to explain.
"Dollars or cents, it's still not yours to spend." the bird replied haughtily.
"But I didn't mean————" insisted Milo.
Of course you're mean, interrupted the bird, closing the eye that had been open and opening the one that had been closed. "Anyone who'd spend a night that doesn't belong to him is very mean."
"Well I thought that by——-" he tried again desperately.
"That's a different story," interjected the bird a bit more amiably. "If you want to buy, I'm sure I can arrange to sell, but with what you're doing you'll probably end up in a cell anyway."
"That doesn't seem right," said Milo helplessly, for, with the bird taking everything the wrong way, he hardly knew what he was saying.
"Agreed," said the bird, with a sharp click of his beak, "but neither is it left, although if I were you I would have left a long time ago."
"Let me try once more," Milo said in an effort to explain. "In other words———-"
"You mean you have other words?" cried the bird happily. "Well, by all means, use them. You're certainly not doing very well with the ones you have now."
"Must you always interrupt like that?" said Tock irritably, for even he was becoming impatient.
"Naturally," the bird cackled; "it's my job, I take the words right out of your mouth. Haven't we met before? I'm the Everpresent Wordsnatcher. and I'm sure I know your friend the bug." And then he leaned all the way forward and gave a terrible knowing smile.
The Humbug, who was too big to hide and too frightened to more, denied everything.
"Is everyone in Ignorance like you?" asked MIlo.
"Much worse," he said longingly. "But I don't live here. I'm from a place very far away called Context."
"Don't you think you should be getting back?" suggested the bug, holding one arm up in front of him.
"What a horrible thought." the bird shuddered. "It's such an unpleasant place that I spend almost all my time out of it. Besides, what could be nicer that these grimy mountains?"