Talk:The Phantom Tollbooth

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there is a number code in the phantom tollbooth which was sent to azaz the unabridged by the mathimigician which i could not desipher . can anyone help?

I don't think it is a coded message - just a joke about the relative "understandability" of numbers vs. words. - DavidWBrooks 12:30, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

thanks, finally, another fan! im pretty sure its a real code because the second word was "1919" which i think says azaz.

ive been trying to desipher the code and i think you are right . well, that and the fact that its so frustrating trying to crack it!

i belive you and i tried myself and i think the first line is "Dear Azaz," though im not sure thats right

If it's an actual code, it's very complex, as the last string of numbers in the message is presumably the Mathemagician's name, and it has fewer numbers (11) than his name has letters (13). As already noted, most likely it' t semi-random gibberish, starting with something that -looks- like "Dear Azaz" and ending with something that -looks- like "Yours Truly, Mathemagician" - Geoduck

The only parts I found related to real words and numbers is the "Dear Azaz" part since it had something to do with 1 being the first letter of the alphabet and 9 being the last 1 digit number and the last letter in the alphabet.

Leave us not forget that we never actually find out what the Mathemagician's name is. Mathemagician is surely a title; just as Azaz is the King of Dictionopolis, so too is his brother the Mathemagician of Digitopolis. No doubt when they were children, Azaz didn't call his brother "Mathemagician". He must have a name. Why shouldn't it be eleven characters long? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:56, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

How do you know his name ISN'T Mathemagician? Azaz is just he first and last letters of the alphabet, A and Z. Maybe they were named like that to inspire a love of their respective Kingdoms? (talk) 08:24, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

In class my teacher also had the same question, and that its an extremely compicated mathematical equation, The begining , Dear AzAz is correct, and the nd yours truly is also correct (according to her) I also figured, that the numbers relate to the word, lets say I'm saying hello, I would put e first so e would = lets say 3 then the next letter in the alphabet would be h so lets say h = 5 because it's later than e, and then the 2 ls, I would make them the same so they would be = 66 and then the last letter , o , I would represent as 9 so the total thing would be 35669, and it would follow up to the code, correct me if im wrong, i found a few scattered words that follower this one, numbers, and another, words and they each follower this code —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:06, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps the reference to 1919 bears similarity to AzAz? The code, as it appears to me, is simply a semi-gibberish code with a few references and similarities to Azaz. Perhaps mathagicians name is actually a number. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:05, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Maybe the last word is Digitopolis? It has 11 letters. (talk) 01:26, 6 May 2010 (UTC)

If im not mistaken the last numbers on the letter is 62179875073 it can't be Digitopolis because in the number 1919 is azaz and there is a 9 in azaz which is z and in Digitopolis there is no z yet there is a 9 in 62179875073 so its not Digitopolis.
I belive it is just jibberish even if letters was divided into 9 groups there would still be a remainder of one letter out of all 26 so maybe it's in a different language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:12, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

It's interesting that on that page, the Annotated Phantom Tollbooth has nothing to say about a code or decoding the letter. In fact, there is a distinct paucity of information on that letter. -- 00:40, 5 October 2013 User:Ll1324

I want to know whatpage the code is on. Maybe I can solve it, I loved the book very much and think I would enjoy helping to solve it. User:Molly8212345 — Preceding undated comment added 01:20, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

It has no meaning. I've now addressed that in the text. I like this thread.--Wehwalt (talk) 05:31, 2 April 2016 (UTC)
@Molly8212345: It is on page 199 (Which is chapter 16). Momo bly dblk (talk) 17:09, 12 May 2017 (UTC)


I removed the "time wasting" addition to the description of these folks not because it was wrong, but because it seemed unnecessary. But that's a judgement call, of course. - DavidWBrooks 22:14, 30 April 2006 (UTC)


The plot summary seems to have been lifted from the SparkNotes guide to the book (here: ) and only very slightly changed.

It's way too long, too. And poorly written. Needs major editing. - DavidWBrooks 01:12, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
If it's plagiarized from them its also a copyright violation and should be removed. 15:57, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I have slashed it, but it needs to be better written. I also cut some of the way-to0-much character descriptions; more cutting is needed there, too. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 14:24, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Literary commentary[edit]

Just a note for a hypothetical future section on literary analysis/commentary on this book, there are striking parallels between this and The Pilgrim's Progress. Hopefully, reliable sources can back it up. I don't feel like slogging through 1330 g-hits on the subject at the moment though. Axem Titanium (talk) 06:16, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree. Also that Milo's trip, like Alice's, feels like weeks to him but takes up a short amount of real time.
The article also needs a statement that the book works on two levels: children can enjoy the quest and the wordplay, and adults can also appreciate the extended metaphor of the obstacles to achieving wisdom. I'm sure this can be found in a longer review somewhere that can be referenced.
In several places in the book, Juster obliquely criticizes people for ignoring their surroundings, particularly in cities - Milo's initial ennui, the invisible city in Reality, Milo landing in the Doldrums - which makes sense as Juster is an architect. But as this is 'original research' I have not included it.Sofia Roberts (talk) 05:59, 4 February 2009 (UTC)

Main Characters ?!?[edit]

The list of "Main Characters" seems to also include many minor characters. --15lsoucy (talk) 19:00, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Yes, this is quite the fanboy site, in many ways. Feel free to remove some. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 23:49, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Milo's age?[edit]

The Characters section currently has: "Milo, a boy aged about 15, the main character." Now, I don't have my copy of the book to hand (it's on loan to a niece), but in my head Milo has always been younger than that. Possibly that's because when I first read the book I was seven or eight; who can say? But is there any evidence in the book or anything published elsewhere (I checked the linked interviews and found nothing) that justifies the assertion that Milo is "about 15"? --Kay Dekker (talk) 22:19, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Have no idea which is correct, but it was relatively recently changed from "10" to "15"... -- AnonMoos (talk) 23:17, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I removed any reference to age. (although 15 does seem old) - DavidWBrooks (talk) 23:44, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks - I've put a note on the talk page of the user who changed the age to 15 asking for a reference, though as it's from a one-edit IP, I'm not optimistic. --Kay Dekker (talk) 23:50, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Milo's age unstated[edit]

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth mentions that Milo's age is unstated, as Juster discovered it was "not only unnecessary to be that precise but probably more prudent not to do so, lest some readers decide they were too old to care" (Annotated Phantom Tollbooth p. xxiii). A very early draft has the protagonist named "Tony" instead of "Milo", being ten years old (p. xxxi). The final typed draft said, "There once was a little boy named Milo..." and Juster struck out the word "little" (p. xxxii). At any rate, Milo's age is unstated. Ll1324 (talk) 00:32, 5 October 2013 (UTC)


Seems to me the article should contain something about the illustrations, which carry a good deal of the book's appeal. I can't think what to say, though, except unsourcible gushing of enthusiasm. SingingZombie (talk) 10:05, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

Done. Some info about Jules Feiffer's drawing added, some from the NY Times article, and some from the Annotated Phantom Tollbooth. I don't personally have a copy of the Annotated, which has a lot more information about Jules making the drawings, than is in this article. -- 00:40, 5 October 2013 User:Ll1324


No mention of the Elfen Lied writer here, although one of his works redirects here. (talk) 01:44, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Sounds like a mistake. Which work - DavidWBrooks (talk) 11:27, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

By the way, in early drafts, Digitopolis was called "Numeropolis" (mentioned in the Annotated Phantom Tollbooth) -- 00:40, 5 October 2013 User:Ll1324

Princess Rhyme and Reason[edit]

The two princesses got banned in the Castle in the Air. The princesses are beautiful young ladies but their lives are not so pretty. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Quynh.nhu1026 (talkcontribs) 05:37, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

These princesses, according to the Annotated Phantom Tollbooth were also supposed to have pets, the Seal of Approval and the Social Lion, both of which were dropped. Also the Annotated mentioned that the princesses sounded too much like young girls who would say things like that. Ll1324 (talk) 00:40, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

Loose ends?[edit]

Should there be a section for blunders or mishaps? For instance:

  • Although Milo (on p. 70) mentions he wants to help Faintly Macabre get out of prison, and manages to rescue the princesses which would get her out of prison (p. 77), nothing is mentioned about her coming out of prison at the end of the book.
  • The drawing of the "orchestral score" on page 126 looks more like a piano score than an orchestral score.
  • Norton himself says that there is no drawing of Milo himself going through the tollbooth (in the New Yorker article). — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:47, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
Not necessary IMO. This is a work of fantasy and entertainment. There is no implicit promise from the author that his world works the same as ours.Sofia Roberts (talk) 17:56, 5 April 2016 (UTC)

List of editions -> Selected editions[edit]

Since the list of editions is partial (e.g. see here) should it perhaps by titled "Selected editions"? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:30, 11 May 2016 (UTC)

Plot section in-universe problem[edit]

I have found that the entire plot section is written in the in-universe style. I don't know if I am missing the point of the in-universe template, or if this was somehow missed during the review to make this a featured article. Thanks, Gluons12 (talk) 17:44, 28 May 2016 (UTC).

Am I wrong about where you are supposed to put the in-universe tag? I put it on the article page and it was moved to the talk page. Is there any particular location where it is supposed to go? Thanks, Gluons12 (talk) 19:42, 28 May 2016 (UTC).

As a recent featured article, there is consensus it meets the criteria at WP:WIAFA. That might exclude the tag.--Wehwalt (talk) 21:13, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
In the plot section, it presents the story in a nonfiction manner, never once using phrases like, "In the novel, Milo does ABC." Even though it is a featured article, shouldn't we still point existing problems out, so as to make it better? Gluons12 (talk) 22:38, 28 May 2016 (UTC).
Since it is under "plot", I took it for granted that people would know it was in the book without needing to say.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:12, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
I've removed the tag, pending consensus that it needs it.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:18, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
In MOS:INUNIVERSE, it says that "A plot synopsis written like a historical account" is considered inappropriate. Does simply being in the "plot" section excuse it from this? Gluons12 (talk) 01:11, 29 May 2016 (UTC).
That has never been taken to exclude a plot synopsis of reasonable length. It is not written like a historical account, it is simply a description of the narrative. I will say that most if not all FAs about plays or movies have similar ones. To say "in the novel" would be a bit redundant. There may be some ambiguity there, but you can go to WP:FA and examine the analogous articles there.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:14, 29 May 2016 (UTC)
Can we change the section title to something that would more clearly in your view show the reader that the following is not intended as discussion text, but a plot summary? (maybe "Plot summary"?) or lead the section with "The following is a summary of the plot line of the book"?--Wehwalt (talk) 14:03, 29 May 2016 (UTC)
MOS:PLOT states that "Plot summaries and similar recaps of fictional works [...] should be written in an out-of-universe style, presenting the narrative from a displaced, neutral frame of reference from the characters or setting." Therefore, changing the section header would not resolve the problem. I have viewed some of the other featured articles as Wehwalt suggested, and I agree that the in-universe perspective that is here is also present in these articles. I believe that this means that they all are exhibiting the same problem, and should all be fixed. Thanks, Gluons12 talk 22:49, 15 June 2016 (UTC).
Possibly a broader discussion at WT:FAC is necessary, if you feel the criteria are being misapplied.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:14, 15 June 2016 (UTC)

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Themes section seems mostly an original research essay[edit]

The Themes section of this article seems to be mostly an original research essay, filled with items written for a blog or a review but not an article. Examples: - "Like the Bee, the Humbug's insult to his fellow insect goes over Milo's head, but possibly not the reader's" - "Officer Shrift's investigation of the overturning of the Word Market contains the forms of law, without justice" - "Although Milo is bored with learning, that does not mean he knew nothing before his journey. He exhibits characteristics of a well-schooled child of his time; his speech is polite and peppered with "please" and "thank you", and when he unexpectedly encounters the partial child, he requests pardon for staring."

I would like to trim it way back, sticking to direct statements made by sources rather than our extrapolations, but it was pointed out that it went through Featured Article Candidate process in pretty much its current form so perhaps I'm mistaken. Any thoughts?

Incidentally, this may have been my favorite book as a kid and is still in the top 10, so this isn't a rant against the book but rather this not-always-encyclopedic article. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 19:22, 28 October 2017 (UTC)

Everything is sourced. It is from the discussion of the book's themes in the sources, plus a bit from the text of the book itself, such as the bee going over Milo's head to complement Milo's lack of understanding of the insult. To some extent, any discussion of themes involves putting pieces together from different sources. This is in no way unusual. If there are other, better sources than the ones we used, I'd love to use them. Thanks for your comments, I also enjoyed the book as a child.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:39, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
Things can have sources and be original research by wikipedia's standards if they are summaries or re-phrasing of sources that go beyond an encyclopedic level of presentation or information. But there is a level of subjectivity in that judgment (as there is in most wikipedia editing, of course). - DavidWBrooks (talk) 20:59, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
True. Possibly a bit of WP:SYN, arguably. But I think it's within standards. I'm glad you brought the matter up, too few do.--Wehwalt (talk) 04:03, 29 October 2017 (UTC)
I forgot about this discussion and stumbled back upon this article, and have edited out some of the wildly excessive verbiage. You will probably disagree, however. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 01:58, 20 December 2017 (UTC)
I'm not opposed to the wherein. I think your version of the plot description wasn't as true to the actual plot as the earlier one.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:01, 20 December 2017 (UTC)