The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

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…

This book is at it’s most enjoyable when you can understand all of the wordplay and imagination put into the world of The Phantom Tollbooth. I read this in third grade and didn’t understand any of it because I wasn’t paying attention for half the book. I read the book, wrote my report, got my A and was done with it. I didn’t have much interest in classics or old children’s books back then. A few years later, I picked up the book again and read it and loved it.

What can I say? The Phantom Tollbooth just made me happy, with all it’s puns and play-on words. There’s a show called CNN Student News that plays every week during the school year and gives students a short update on what’s going on around the world. The guy who hosts it, Carl Azuz, has the best bad puns ever, and always reminds me of The Phantom Tollbooth. 

I loved Milo and his want to get away from the world, and then what he learned in a world where words are toys and everybody takes joy in making puns. The characters in this story are fun, playful and clever. I think my favorite character is still Tock, the bittersweet, heartwarming clockwork dog. This book is thought-provoking and well-written, and it will always keep it’s place on my top ten favorite childhood chapter books. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the paperback: 272

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