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The Phantom Tollbooth Story Study Lapbook

The Phantom Tollbooth Literature Lapbook
by Norton Juster


lapbook created by  Aadel Bussinger 

Note from Aadel ~
The questions and discussion topics in this literature study are mostly of an abstract nature (having no definitive answer).  Where definitions and facts do have a place, I have made every effort to provide correct information and adequate resources.

Lapbook Templates

Tollbooth and Phantom
Tock the Watchdog
About The Author
Infinity and Mathematics
Cast of Characters
How Would They Taste?
Everpresent Wordsnatcher
Weather & Whether A New Sound  

Before you read:

Discuss the following terms or ideas:

~Boredom- the state of being tiresome, restless, or weary from lack of interest.  Discuss the synonyms and antonyms for boredom/boring.
~Tollbooth- a booth on a highway, bridge, or passage where you must pay a toll in order to keep travelling.
~Phantom- something that seems to be there but it not. A representation of something, but not the actual thing.  A representation of an idea.

~Tollbooth and Phantom minibooks
These are two simple fold minibooks where you can record the definitions you discussed.

~About The Author minibook- Cut out the shape book and staple together on left side. 

Information about Norton Juster:
He was born in New York City in 1929.  He served in the United States Navy for three years before he became an architect.  His father and brother are both architects.  His first book The Phantom Tollbooth, was published in 1961, and won the George C. Stone Centre For Children’s Books Award.  His book The Hello Goodbye Window has won the Caldecott Medal.   It has been made into a movie and a musical.  He is married and has one daughter and one granddaughter.

Use these books throughout the unit, as desired
~Cast of Characters

Vocabulary Minibook- use words that you have defined to fill as many cards as needed.  Cut out pocket, fold, and paste onto lapbook.  Insert your vocabulary cards into pocket.

Chapter 1:

~Talk about Milo’s dilemma.  Discuss the possible causes (Milo’s attitude, excess material goods, lack of purpose and responsibility, etc).

~Describe Milo’s surprise gift.  How could it be “not quite square, but definitely not round”?

~What did the package contain?  (genuine turnpike tollbooth, precautionary signs, coins, map, and a book of rules and traffic regulations)

~Where does Milo decide to go?  How does he choose his destination?

Chapter 2

~Where does Milo find himself after he passes the tollbooth?

~Describe Beyond Expectations

~Weather & Whether minibook
Cut out book in one piece (you are looking at the outside of the book).  Fold the ‘weather’ and ‘whether’ flaps in so they are showing on the front of the book.  Write the definition of both words under their flaps, and in the center write homophone as well as the definition

~Discuss and define the term expectations, and how they always come before the thing you expect. (Example, expecting a present at your birthday party always comes before actually getting the present)

~How did Milo get lost in the Doldrums?  Discuss how doldrums is a synonym for boredom.

~Discuss the term lethargic and explain how it describes the Lethargians.  Who else does Milo meet?  Discuss how Milo escapes the Doldrums.

Chapter 3

~Tock the Watchdog minibook
Cut out in one piece; fold the two outer flaps in, with the picture of Tock as your cover.  Inside the flaps, you can describe Tock, explain how he got his name, and write about his important job (keeping track of time).

~Describe the King’s ministers.  Why did they say the same thing in different ways?  What was their job in the marketplace?

~Synonyms minibook
Cut out book in one piece.  Cut out the four word squares.  Cut the flaps on the book along the dotted lines and fold into book (flaps will open from the right).  Glue the word squares onto the fronts of the flaps.  Inside the flaps, write the synonyms the ministers use for each word.

Chapter 4

~Discuss the Market Place.  What was being traded and sold?

~Define the three words that Milo picks out: quagmire, flabbergast, and upholstery.  Why do you think Milo liked them, even if he didn’t know what they meant?

~Discuss how the different letters tasted.  Why do you think A was sweet, but W was dry and saw-dusty?

~How Would They Taste? minibook
Have students choose a few letters and describe how they would taste.

Chapters 5-6

~Discuss the phrase “short shrift” – to give little consideration or care for, brief and unsympathetic rejection, careless treatment

~Why does Short Shrift send Milo & Tock to the dungeon?

~Who is Faintly Macabre?  What story does she tell?

~Discuss the concept of Rhyme and Reason. 
Meaning:  A thing which has neither rhyme nor reason makes no sense, from either a poetic or logical standpoint.  It comes from Shakespeare’s A Comedy of Errors when Dromio of Syracuse says, "Was there ever any man thus beaten out of season/When in the why and the wherefore is neither rhyme nor reason?"

~Two Cities minibook- print on cardstock or heavier paper.  Cut minibook out in one piece, fold in half lengthwise.  Cut out cover and glue to front of book.  Describe each city as told by Faintly Macabre.

King Azas The Unabridged
Words are emphasized  
Numbers are emphasized
To The South     To The North

~How could Rhyme and Reason be rescued?

Chapters 7-8

~Discuss the concept of idioms.  Idiom- A phrase with a different meaning than its individual words.  An idiom has an understood meaning, rather than an actual or literal one.

Idioms minibook
Cut out each shape, staple book together at top or on left side.

Ideas for minibook:  Have student write or illustrate what they think the idiom means on one side, and write the intended meaning on the other side, or just write what the understood meaning of the idiom is.

Some other idioms to discuss:

Eat your own words
Hit the books
Making a mountain out of a molehill
Splitting Hairs
Hanging by a thread
I’m all ears
A square meal

Continue to look for idioms through the rest of the book, talk about their intended meaning, and how someone might wrongly interpret them if took literally.

Here is a fun game to play called Paint By Idioms

Chapters 9-10

~Discuss the concept of a person’s point of view.  Talk about how different people see things different ways, culturally, by opinion, by physical ability, by their upbringing.   Discuss the point of view that Alec Bings had versus Milo and Tock.

~What does Milo learn in the Land Of Illusions?  Why is it important to notice what is going on around us?

~Who is Chroma the Great?  Why can’t the instruments stop playing?

Define chroma and chromatic.

Chroma-  the purity of a color, the saturation of a color or hue.

Chromatic- pertaining to color or colors

What two jobs did Chroma give Milo to do?  Did he do them right? 

Chapters 11-12

~What happens when Milo tries to conduct the orchestra?

~Discuss whether it was right for Milo to keep the extra week a secret.

~Who are Dr. Dischord and Dynne?

Define the following terms:

Discord- lack of harmony, a combination of musical tones that strikes the ear harshly

Dissonance- lack of agreement, inconsistency, a clashing of sounds

Cacophonous (cacophony) - harsh sounding, harsh sounds or words

Din- a loud continued noise

Discuss why a sound is pleasant or unpleasant.  Can a pleasant sound become an unpleasant one?

~What was wrong in the Valley of Sound?

~Who is the Soundkeeper?  Why has she stopped the sounds from going out?

~A New Sound Minibook
Cut out book in one piece and fold accordion-style. 

Chapters 13-14

~How did Milo release the sound?

~What did the Soundkeeper give to Milo?  Did he appreciate the gift?

~Who is Canby?

~Discuss the idiom “jumping to conclusions” – to judge or decide something before knowing all the facts.  How do we sometimes do this?

Why couldn’t they jump back?  Why did they have to swim through the Sea of Knowledge?  Discuss how finding out the facts is often times like swimming through a sea, and how it can be difficult and take much effort.

~What is a Dodecahedron?

Dodecahedron Minibook- Cut around the outer lines, fold book in half on dotted line.  On the inside, describe or define a dodecahedron, and tell about the character in the book.

Dodecahedron Template

For more dodecahedrons, these sites are useful:

~Discuss the idea that the dodecahedron presents:   If the answer is right, who cares if the question is wrong?  Is this a wise way to think?

~Describe the Mathemagician.  Where do Milo, Tock, and Humbug meet him?

~What are they mining for?  What do they throw away?  Discuss how something can be valuable to one person, and not another.

Chapter  15

~This entire chapter and most of chapter 16 deal with mathematics.  Define mathematics.

Mathematics (math):  the study of the relationship between size, shape, and quantity using numbers and symbols.

~Discuss the Subtraction Stew that was fed to Milo, Tock, and Humbug.  How can adding leave you with less than you started with?  (by using negative numbers/adding less than zero)

~The Mathemagician’s workshop had 16 windows like the points on a compass and numbers representing the 360 degrees of the compass.  How does a compass relate to math?

~Define infinity.  Discuss how numbers in a set can be infinite.  For example, you can always find a longer length, a larger number, or a smaller fraction.  Do some research on infinity.  A great site to look at.

~Infinity and Mathematics minibooks
These are both simple-fold books.  In the Infinity book, define the term or describe something that can be infinite.    In the Mathematics book, describe how math can be related to numbers, shape, size, measurement, data, algebraic expressions, etc.

Chapter 16

~Define the term average.  Can you really have .58 of a child?  How can averages be helpful?  How can averages sometimes complicate or not represent reality?

~What does the Mathemagician mean when he says that everyone understands numbers, no matter what language they speak? 

~How does Milo trick the Mathemagician into letting him rescue Rhyme and Reason?

~What gifts does Milo have in his possession when he enters the Mountains of Ignorance? (sights, sounds, words, and a magic wand which is really a pencil)

~Where did the Everpresent Wordsnatcher (Dirty Bird) really live? (Context)  Discuss how the bird took what Milo said “out of context”.

~Define the term context.  Context:  the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect.

~Everpresent Wordsnatcher minibook
This is a simple fold book, inside describe the Wordsnatcher and how he takes words out of their context.

~What tasks does the gentleman ask Milo, Tock, and the Humbug to help him with?  What tools does he give them to accomplish the jobs?

Chapters 17-18

~Define the following terms:

Demon-an evil spirit, person, someone considered wicked or cruel, a person who is very mischievous, an evil passion or influence

Trivial (Trivium) -of very little importance or value, insignificant, petty (from the Latin Trivialis-belonging to the street corner or crossroads; hence commonplace)

Worthwhile-valuable, rewarding, beneficial, something that will repay one’s time, money, work, etc

Insincerity-the quality of not being sincere, dishonest, hypocrisy, deceitful, not truthful or genuine

Ignorance-the state of being ignorant, lack of knowledge, learning, information, etc

~Discuss what the Terrible Trivium says about meaningless tasks:  “There is always something to do that keeps you from what you should be doing.”  Is this true?  What are some ways we can keep this from happening?

~What problem did the Demon of Insincerity have?  How did he describe himself?  What did he really look like?  How can being insincere cause you to be someone other than yourself?

~How was the Demon of Ignorance fearful?  Discuss how ignorance can oftentimes cause fear of what we do not understand.  What is the answer to defeat ignorance? (ideas, knowledge, wisdom)

~Was the Senses Taker a demon?  What mischief or cruelty did he cause?  How did he distract Milo and his friends?  What was the one thing he could not take from them?  (sense of humor)  What pun is there on his name?  (think about census and senses)

~Demons minibook
Cut out on solid lines, mountain fold on dotted lines.  Describe each demon under the flaps.  In the center middle, you can describe what they all have in common, or define the term demon.

~Describe the princesses, Rhyme and Reason.  Why do you think Reason was grave and quiet, and Rhyme gay and joyful?

~Discuss what the Princess of Pure Reason says, “You may not see it now, but whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way.”

~How do they get down from the castle?  What does the idiom “time flies” really mean?

Chapters 19-20

~Chapter 19 lists several more demons of ignorance that you can discuss.  Define any unknown terms and describe the negative impacts these things have on wisdom:

The Triple Demons of Compromise
The Horrible Hopping Hindsight
The Gorgons of Hate and Malice
The Overbearing Know-it-all
The Gross Exaggeration
The Threadbare Excuse

~How are Milo and his companions rescued from the demons?

~Describe the celebration that was held in honor of Milo, Tock, and Humbug.

~What do you think would have happened if one of the Kings had told Milo his task was impossible before he left on his journey?  Discuss the idea that sometimes what we think is impossible is really a matter of determination, and we often do the impossible without even knowing it.

~How long has Milo been gone from the real world?  How long did Milo think he was gone?

~What happened to the tollbooth?

~Will Milo ever go on another journey again?

~Pick and discuss from the following ideas and tell what Milo learned about them on his journey: Wisdom (or Common Sense), Time, Ignorance, Fear, Appreciation of Everyday Life, Boredom, Words, Numbers

~What is Milo doing at the end of the book?  Do you think he has changed or stayed the same as before he found the Tollbooth?