Reed Books: The Phantom Tollbooth


Jess Reed, Staff Writer

Written in 1961 by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, The Phantom Tollbooth is a wonderful children’s book that exudes with hope, making it a timeless classic for every child to enjoy.

This novel begins by introducing a boy named Milo, who is rather bored by life, until a mysterious tollbooth appears in his room. He drives inside, and soon finds himself in another world, with literal representations of just about every life lesson you could imagine. He visits the Word Market, where citizens purchase words to use throughout the day. He passes by the island of conclusions, which can only be accessed by jumping. He fights to save the princesses Rhyme and Reason, who hold up the city of Wisdom. Filled with wordplay, the book is a fun way for kids to visualize difficult concepts.

More importantly, it speaks on the beauty of everyday life. At the end of the book, Milo returns to his bedroom, and finds that the tollbooth has disappeared. As he mopes over never returning to that new world, he realizes that there is enough to occupy him in his own world. Things to build, books to write, a bright blue sky, and a few white clouds are all he needs, as Milo has finally conquered his chronic boredom.

While this book is clearly angled towards children, many of these lessons can be applied just as well in adult life.