The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster


“‘… so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.'”

Miles is a boy who finds no enjoyment in anything. School bores him. He walks quickly from place to place not noticing anything. He finds no enjoyment in any of his toys or books. Then, one day, a box awaits him in his living room and inside is a tollbooth that takes him to another world.

My daughter read this book for school and implored me to read it, too. She really enjoyed it and said it was a “play on words.” I borrowed the e-book from the library through Overdrive and it was available fairly quickly.

Miles finds himself in a world with a divided kingdom. Once united under their King Father, two brothers argue over whether words or numbers are most important. Their argument goes so far that one banishes their sisters Rhyme and Reason for not taking sides. With the help of Tock, a ticking watchdog clock, Miles sets out to rescue the princesses and set the kingdom right. He visits the Island of Conclusions (you have to jump to get there) and is saved at one point because time (Tock) flies.

The book is ingenious for teaching children the meanings of many of our English phrases in a clever way. Sayings are taken literally to show how silly they are. However, the main push of the book is to show how exciting life can be even if you think only dull objects and activities surround you.

I would highly recommend this to any child upper-elementary age or older. I really enjoyed it as an adult, but am surprised that it never crossed my path as a child. I read a lot and I think this is one of those must-read books for children. The book was written in 1962 and is now a movie as well.

Buy the book here (affiliate link).

About Sarah Anne Carter

Sarah Anne Carter is a writer and reader. She grew up all over the world as a military brat and is now putting down roots with her family in Ohio. Family life keeps her busy, but any spare moment is spent reading, writing or thinking about plots for novels.