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The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth


by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth Chapter 1 Summary


  • Our first chapter introduces Milo, who's a pretty grumpy guy. He's bored with his school and with life more generally: nothing's exciting or interesting. He has a lot of privileges, but they all seem kind of bland.
  • He uses his stroll home from a day of classes to think about how life kind of sucks. He seems pretty down in the dumps.
  • When he gets home, he goes to his room and feels like he has nothing to do.
  • But then he spots a mystery box in the corner of his room. It's a huge present, and he totally wasn't expecting anything of the kind. Awesome.
  • The box has his name on it, and there's a card attached: it says that inside the package are a tollbooth, signs, coins, a map, and a volume of traffic laws. Hmmm.
  • He opens the box and, sure enough, there's a tollbooth inside, but not all put together yet (kind of like something from Ikea).
  • Milo puts the contraption together and then displays the three signs. He consults the map and finds it sort of strange: it's very complete, but the countryside it describes is one he's never seen or heard of. Strange, indeed.
  • Oh well. He looks on the map and decides to travel to a place called Dictionopolis. He uses a toy car (it's large enough that he can sit in it), and heads through the tollbooth. Off he goes.

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