The Phantom Toolbooth

Seems like I first read The Phantom Tollbooth in about sixth grade or so and reported to the teacher that this book was the best I had ever read and would highly recommend it.

Many years later, I had purchased a copy for each of my nieces and nephews (15 of them) as birthday gifts

Fast forward a few years after then and decided to purchase a copy of this “best book that I had ever read” so many years ago to re-read and rekindle some of that sixth grade joy.

So, I re-read many chapters of this back, and man, that was some really tough sledding–so incredibly tedious and boring. How could this have ever been my best book?

And what an embarrassment to have given this book to all of my nieces and nephews.

Have you ever had a similar experience?

Sure, but The Phantom Tollbooth wasn’t one of 'em. If you’re 6th or 7th grade it’s still fantastic. I gave it to my daughter when she was that age and she loved it, and my grandson loved it when he was that age.

The Three Musketeers isn’t as good as I remember it being when I was 13, but it’s still a good book.

The Hobbit still has the same appeal to me as it did at 13, but the rest of the series I just cannot slog through anymore.

I loved the Phantom Tollbooth when I first read it, age 10 or even younger. Later in high school I used it to write a paper on fables, explaining that it was a fable related in a number of smaller fables. Aced it and impressed the teacher.

Yeah, same here. LOTR is just tooo loooong. There’s not enough good story to justify it.

The Phantom Tollbooth was pretty cool. At the right age. But now at this age I’d like to read the Phantom Toolbooth:

I wonder what it’d be about? Strange adventures in DIY-land? Construction Hacks for Dummies?

Enquiring Minds want to know. :wink:

I just recently sent this book (along with Black and Blue Magic) to my ten year old grandson and I hope he enjoys it as much as I did. I’ve reread it as an adult (on account of it was one of the books I read aloud to my kids when they were young) and enjoyed it then right along with them. We went through a bunch of my favorite kid’s books and it gave a different sort of enjoyment to see each book through the eyes of a kid discovering those worlds for the first time. I sent my older grandchild, now a young man in his '20s through the same journey and he’s a dedicated fantasy/SF aficionado now because of it, and yes, The Phantom Tollbooth was one of the books I slipped under his nose. I regret nothing! :wink:

It is an important book to have read, not so much to re-read.

Many years ago I read the books of Niel Hancock, who I thought was just as good as JRR Tolkien. I reread them several years later and thought they were boring and cliche.

The Phantom Tollbooth synopsis heading right your way:

It tells the story of a bored young boy named Milo who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth one afternoon and, having nothing better to do, drives through it in his toy car, transporting him to the Kingdom of Wisdom, once prosperous but now troubled.

I think he’s looking for info about The Phantom Toolbooth

That might be a story about a bored middle-aged man who discovers magical tool shed in his backyard. Having nothing better to do he begins to use the tools which transport him to a magical Kingdom of Wisdom where he learns lessons about measuring twice and cutting once with a brand new sliding compound miter saw with laser sight alignment.

I had a pretty similar experience with the Phantom Tollbooth, only I didn’t give it out as a gift. I can re-read a lot of juvenile fiction and appreciate it as an adult. Like for example Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books. But I did love the Phantom Tollbooth as a child and it did not live up to my memory as an adult.

However, I don’t think you did anything embarrassing necessarily. There is a reason both of us loved it at one time and it’s considered a classic today. Odds are at least some of your nieces and nephews will get a kick out of it as well.

I want to read this book.


FTR I’m not trying to be a jerk. Just making a small joke about your funny typo.


I even included the OP quote box. Whaddayagonna do?

I enjoyed this book as a kid, and when I read it to my son (I can’t remember his age), he said it was his favorite book ever. I enjoyed it rereading it.

One book I remember loving as a kid, Born to Race by Blanche Chenery Perrin, seemed boring to me when I reread it as an adult.

Are you sure it’s not The Phantom Poolboy, Jerry Falwell Jr.'s fave book?

I first heard part of it on the radio and then read it - when I was middle-school aged. I really loved it then. And while I don’t remember the whole thing, I still remember little jokes from the book and I still find them amusing even all this time later. Not sure I’d still love it the way I did then, but it works for the age it was aimed at and I think I’d still like it were I to re-read it.

I definitely do remember not having the slightest idea what a “turnpike tollbooth” was. None of the roads here had tolls at the time and we don’t call the highways “turnpikes” (I think that’s an East Coast term), so I was kind of unclear about what exactly was going on at the beginning of the book.

I enjoyed it as a kid and kind of forgot about it over the years. Then I was lucky enough to meet the author, Norton Juster, at a book conference on the 50th anniversary of the release of Tollbooth. I went back and re-read it after talking to Juster, and enjoyed it not because it’s a great book for an old dude to read, but just to relive the experience.

Maybe your father just read you the good parts. You could always make an abridgement leaving out the tedious stuff and political satire.

Whereas I found the Prydain books a lot more lightweight than I remember them being (unsurprisingly) but still love The Phantom Tollbooth.

It’s even more fun if you read it knowing that Juster wrote some bits deliberately to torment Jules Feiffer the illustrator, culminating in this bit of absolute torture for the guy who had to draw it:

That’s just evil. :smiling_imp:

I’ve never heard of the Phantom Tollbooth, but I’m with @LSLGuy - I was thinking the Phantom ToolBooth was a combination of American Horror Story, This Old House and The HItchhiker.