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The Phantom Tollbooth Kindle Edition
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"A classic--Humorous, full of warmth and real invention."-The New Yorker
“The Phantom Tollbooth is the closest thing we have to a modern Alice in Wonderland.”—The Guardian
“The book lingers long after turning the final page. . . . A classic indeed.” —Los Angeles Review of Books
“You loved the humor and adventure . . . and [now] you’ll marvel at [the book's] wit, complexity, and its understanding of how children perceive the passage of time.” —Entertainment Weekly
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
There was once a boy named Milo who didn’t know what to do with himself — not just sometimes, but always.
When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he’d bothered. Nothing really interested him — least of all the things that should have.
“It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,” he remarked one day as he walked dejectedly home from school. “I can’t see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February.” And, since no one bothered to explain otherwise, he regarded the process of seeking knowledge as the greatest waste of time of all.
As he and his unhappy thoughts hurried along (for while he was never anxious to be where he was going, he liked to get there as quickly as possible) it seemed a great wonder that the world, which was so large, could sometimes feel so small and empty.
“And worst of all,” he continued sadly, “there’s nothing for me to do, nowhere I’d care to go, and hardly anything worth seeing,” He punctuated this last thought with such a deep sigh that a house sparrow singing nearby stopped and rushed home to be with his family.
Without stopping or looking up, Milo dashed past the buildings and busy shops that lined the street and in a few minutes reached home — dashed through the lobby — hopped onto the elevator — two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and off again — opened the apartment door — rushed into his room — flopped dejectedly into a chair, and grumbled softly, “Another long afternoon.”
He looked glumly at all the things he owned. The books that were too much trouble to read, the tools he’d never learned to use, the small electric automobile he hadn’t driven in months — or was it years? — and the hundreds of other games and toys, and bats and balls, and bits and pieces scattered around him. And then, to one side of the room, just next to the phonograph, he noticed something he had certainly never seen before.
Who could possibly have left such an enormous package and such a strange one? For, while it was not quite square, it was definitely not round, and for its size it was larger than almost any other big package of smaller dimension that he’d ever seen.
Attached to one side was a bright-blue envelope which said simply: “FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME.”
Of course, if you’ve ever gotten a surprise package you can imagine how puzzled and excited Milo was; and if you’ve never gotten one, pay close attention, because someday you might.
“I don’t think it’s my birthday,” he puzzled, “and Christmas must be months away, and I haven’t been outstandingly good, or even good at all.” (He had to admit this even to himself.) “Most probably I won’t like it anyway, but since I don’t know where it came from, I can’t possibly send it back.” He thought about it for quite a while and then opened the envelope, but just to be polite.
“ONE GENUINE TURNPIKE TOLLBOOTH,” it stated — and then it went on:
“EASILY ASSEMBLED AT HOME, AND FOR USE BY THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER TRAVELED IN LANDS BEYOOND.”
“Beyond what?” thought Milo as he continued to read.
“THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
“One (1) genuine turnpike tollbooth to be erected according to directions.
“Three (3) precautionary signs to be used in a precautionary fashion.
“Assorted coins for use in paying tolls.
“One (1) map, up to date and carefully drawn by master cartographers, depicting natural and man-made features.
“One (1) book of rules and traffic regulations, which may not be bent or broken.”
And in smaller letters at the bottom it concluded:
“RESULTS ARE NOT GUARANTEED, BUT IF NOT PERFECTLY SATISFIED, YOUR WASTED TIME WILL BE REFUNDED.”
Following the instructions, which told him to cut here, lift there, and fold back all around, he soon had the tollbooth unpacked and set up on its stand. He fitted the windows in place and attached the roof, which extended out on both sides, and fastened on the coin box. It was very much like the tollbooths he’d seen many times on family trips, except of course it was much smaller and purple.
“What a strange present,” he thought to himself. “The least they could have done was to send a highway with it, for it’s terribly impractical without one.” But since, at the time, there was nothing else he wanted to play with, he set up the three signs,
SLOW DOWN APPROACHING TOLLBOOTH
PLEASE HAVE YOUR FARE READY
HAVE YOUR DESTINATION IN MIND
And slowly unfolded the map.
As the announcement stated, it was a beautiful map, in many colors, showing principal roads, rivers and seas, towns and cities, mountains and valleys, intersections and detours, and sites of outstanding interest both beautiful and historic.
The only trouble was that Milo had never heard of any of the places it indicated, and even the names sounded most peculiar.
“I don’t think there really is such a country,” he concluded after studying it carefully. “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway.” And he closed his eyes and poked a finger at the map.
“Dictionopolis,” read Milo slowly when he saw what his finger had chosen. “Oh, well, I might as well go there as anywhere.”
He walked across the room and dusted the car off carefully. Then, taking the map and rule book with him, he hopped in and, for lack of anything better to do, drove slowly up to the tollbooth. As he deposited his coin and rolled past he remarked wistfully, “I do hope this is an interesting game, otherwise the afternoon will be so terribly dull.” --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B004IK8Q90
- Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (January 26, 2011)
- Publication date : January 26, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 73212 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 286 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #50,750 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Milo is a boy who is ALWAYS bored. Then, one day he comes home from school to find The Phantom Tollbooth, with directions for assembly, a book of rules, maps, and two coins for the toll. Luckily, Milo also has a driveable toy electric car, so, after the tollbooth is together, he gets in his little car, drops in one of the coins, and off he goes, looking for something that he hopes might not be boring.
And so he goes, having fun times, meeting creatures we all know...a dog with a clock for a body (a watch dog, of course), a large bug that brags without reason and claims always to know the answers (a humbug). He goes to a banquet, but has to eat his words, and wishes he had given a shorter and yummier speech. If I started telling you all the delightful word play I would have to eventually copy the entire book. The author does a magnificent job and his love of words is obvious. No phrase is too small to take literally or juggle into new meanings.
Yet, even in the happy lands of Dictionopolis and Digitopolis....a city that uses numbers like Dictionopolis uses words...there is a problem. Throughout the entire Empire of Wisdom, there is no Rhyme or Reason, who were exiled. Milo, Tock, the watchdog, and the Humbug, start off to bring Rhyme and Reason back to the Empire of Wisdom. They have, of course, many adventures, but the mission doesn't actually become dangerous until they reach the Mountains of Ignorance, where they are beset by terrible demons: the Everpresent Wordsnatcher, who constantly interrupts, the Terrible Trivium, who wastes time doing unimportant, repetitive tasks, the Senses Taker, who wastes time filling out forms with useless information until the person is too bored to go do something more important, the long-nosed, green-eyed, curly-haired, wide-mouthed, thick-necked, broad-shouldered, round-bodied, short-armed, bowlegged, big-footed monster, who is, of course, none of these things, and is, in real life, the Demon of Insincerity. There are too many demons and monsters to mention here, but everyone is a demon you will recognize from your own life, slowing you down, wasting your time, and trying to confuse you.
After a couple of close calls, the three make it to The Castle In The Air and rescue the sisters, bringing Rhyme and Reason back to the Empire of Wisdom. There is much celebration, but Milo, worried that he has been away for so long, gets back in his little car and returns home, where only an hour has passed and the only thing that has changed is Milo, himself, who is no longer bored.
It's a marvelous book, quite suitable for children...none of the "demons" are scary to the youngest child, but I honestly don't believe a child can really appreciate the book's play with words, phrases and numbers. You would have to stop and explain a lot. I'd wait until my kid had a good grounding in the English language before I'd give her this book and, if she didn't like it, I'd try again a few years later. But don't forget to read it yourself. This is one of my favorite books of all time, and five stars just aren't enough to rate it with.
By Above Average Consumers on October 20, 2020
If you want philosophy suitable for a young mind, this is excellent. If you're not above reading a "children's book" if you're not a child, it's still great philosophy, mythology, word play, and creative genesis. Sure, as a society we first need to learn rules, what things mean. But once the rules are learned then you need to learn when they should be broken. Not everything has to make rigid sense. Once a surface meaning is discovered you don't quit searching, you can keep digging for the underlying meaning and learn more about the world and more about yourself. This is like beginner semiotics, early lessons in meaning-making. Sometimes watches tick. Sometimes they tock. Also it's fun!
By Edward Balen on May 19, 2019
Especially if you are an incorrigible punster (do not incorrige), read this book. It is well worth it.
Top reviews from other countries
Book was in reasonably good condition for having been read many times before. Might have been a library book at one point. Two sticky notes in the back from a child who was apparently planning a party. :-)