The Phantom Tollbooth Novel by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth Teaching IdeasOnce you read this summary on The Phantom Tollbooth, you are going to want to read it with your students. The story is great for teaching so many skills. Wordplay is scattered throughout the novel making it fun. Be sure to download the map of Milo’s travels for students to summarize his adventures.

Milo’s Travels in The Phantom Tollbooth –  A Book Summary

The Adventure Begins

Bored Milo gets into his toy car and travels through the tollbooth into an imaginary land called the Lands Beyond. His first stop is Expectations where he meets the Whether Man (whether to do this or that), who can’t make any decisions.

Milo continues driving. Because his mind wonders, Milo ends up in the Doldrums where everyone is bored and does nothing. While there, he meets Tock, the watchdog who helps him leave by “thinking.”

Milo and Tock go to one of the two capital cities Dictionopolis ruled by King Azaz. Officer Shrift arrests Milo and Tock for creating a disturbance in the market where letters are sold. In the jail dungeon, they meet Faintly Macrabe who tells them everyone has lost common sense since the two princesses, Rhyme and Reason, were banished. Milo and Tock decide to go on a rescue mission to bring the two princesses back to the kingdom. King Azaz sends Humbug along with them on the mission.

The Rescue

Milo, Tock, and Humbug meet Alec Bings whose feet never touch the ground. He teaches the group about perspective. They visit two cities in the Forest of Sight; Illusions that are not real and Reality which is real. They also meet Chroma the Great who directs the world of color.

The group continues traveling. In the Valley of Sound, they meet Dr. Dischord and his sidekick Dynne who love terrible sounds. Deeper into the valley, all is quiet. Milo learns the Soundkeeper has captured all sound. Milo helps released these captured sounds before traveling onward.

While traveling from the Valley of Sound to Digitopolis, Humbug makes a conclusion without using logic. The group immediately finds themselves on the Island of Conclusions crowded with many others who jump to conclusions. They must swim through the Sea of Knowledge to return to the mainland.

The group finally reach the second capital city Digitopolis. They meet Mathemagican, brother of Azaz, who rules over the mines of numbers. Milo convinces Mathemagican that Rhyme and Reason must return to the kingdom. He agrees.

Milo, Tock, and Humbug travel into the Mountains of Ignorance to release the princesses. They meet many demons. Milo battles these demons with the gifts he’s accumulated in his travels. The group reaches the princesses. They fly away from the tower with the help of Tock. Because he is a watchdog, he can make time fly. Mathemagician’s and King Azaz’s joint armies rescue them. After a celebration, Milo returns home.

Map Activity

Help students map out Milo’s journey with this free map and chart.

Free Mapping Activity for The Phantom TollboothAs students read The Phantom Tollbooth, have them complete the chart with a brief summary of each location Milo visits. On the map have students plot the journey by drawing dots of different colors to each location and then connecting the dots.

Download the free resource here.

Do you need additional teaching resources?

Check out The Phantom Tollbooth Book Unit
on Teachers pay Teachers.

Download a free sample of the unit here.


The Phantom Tollbooth Book Unit on Teachers pay Teachers


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