The Phantom Toolbooth by Norton Juster

The Phantom Toolbooth

Rating: 3 Stars ★★★☆☆

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


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. . . .



A trip through a magical toolbooth lands Milo in a mysterious country where you have to eat your words, numbers are mined and there’s a staircase leading to infinity.

It is a sweet story full of interesting characters and full of plays on words. There is Tock, a dog with the body of a clock who watches time. Humbug, a bug that talks a lot of nonsense and agrees with everyone. Then there’s the Mathemagician and the King of Dictionopolis, who never agree on anything.

“SILENCE!” thundered the policeman, pulling himself up to full height and staring menacingly at the terrified bug. “And now,” he continued, speaking to Milo, “where were you on the night of 27 July?”

“What does that have to do with it?” asked Milo.

“It’s my birthday, that’s what,” said the policeman as he entered “Forgot my birthday” in his little book. “Boys always forget other people’s birthdays.”

It is a world in chaos, through which Milo travels. Only when the princesses Rhyme and Reason are saved from the castle in the air, surrounded by terrible demons. And Milo finds himself with the job of freeing the princesses.

I liked the story, though there were sometimes a bit too many literal scenes.


A cute story with a lot of word-play.


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