The Most Important Lessons From The Phantom Tollbooth
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The Most Important Lessons From The Phantom Tollbooth

“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.” – The Princess of Pure Reason

The Most Important Lessons From The Phantom Tollbooth
Kate Milford

"The Phantom Tollbooth" is a charming kids book about a dull, depressed boy named Milo, who, by journeying through the Kingdom of Wisdom, renews his spark for life. He travels through various lands including the Mountains of Ignorance, Expectations, The Doldrums, Digitopolis and Dictionopolis and more. Milo’s mission is to return the two exiled princesses named Rhyme and Reason to the land.

Illustration by Jules Feiffer

I’m going to be honest, when I first read this book at age 10, I did not understand a single thing. So here, nine years later, I picked it up again, and I. freaking. loved. It.

I took little notes in the pages of things I thought were important, and underlined the best quotes, so here is what I learned!

1. “Time is our most valuable possession, more precious than diamonds. It marches on, it and tide wait for no man.” –Tock

2. “History is full of Humbugs” – the Humbug

3. “A slavish concern for the composition of words is the sign of a bankrupt intellect” –The Humbug

4. “Rhyme and Reason answer all problems” – Everyone

5. “Words and numbers are of equal value, for, in the cloak of knowledge, one is warp and the other woof. It is no more important to count the sands than it is to name the stars.” – Rhyme and Reason

6. You always have to suffer the consequences of the things you say.

“’I didn’t know that I was going to have to eat my words,’ objected Milo.

‘Of course, of course, everyone here does,’ the king grunted. ‘You should have made a tastier speech.’”

7. “Things which are equally bad are also equally good. Try to look at the bright side of things.” –The Humbug

8. “The way you see things depends a great deal on where you look at them from.” – Alec Bings

9. “Besides, being lost is never a matter of not knowing where you are; it’s a matter of not knowing where you aren’t—and I don’t care at all about where I’m not” – Alec Bings.

10. People try to fit certain labels to be more noteworthy and less ordinary to others.

“Do you want to ruin everything? You see, to tall men I’m a midget, and to short men I’m a giant; to the skinny ones I’m a fat man, and to the fat ones I’m a thin man. That way I can hold four jobs at once. As you can see, though, I’m neither tall nor short nor fat nor thin. In fact, I’m quite ordinary, but there are so many ordinary men that no one asks their opinion about anything.” – The tall/short/fat/thin man

11. “If it isn’t there, you can see it just as well with your eyes closed. That’s why imaginary things are often easier to see than real ones.” – Alec Bings.

12. “There’s so much more to see in the Forest of Sight. But I suppose there’s a lot to see everywhere, if only you keep your eyes open.” “There is much worth noticing that often escapes the eye.” –Alec Bings

13. “Everyone was so busy with the things that had to be done that they scarcely had time to listen at all. And, as you know, a sound which is not heard disappears forever and is not to be found again.” – The Writer

14. “Why, did you know that there are almost as many kinds of stillness as there are sounds? But, sadly enough, no one pays any attention to them these days.” –The Soundkeeper

15. “From now on I’m going to have a very good reason before I make up my mind about anything. You can lose too much time jumping to Conclusions.” –Milo

16. “Just because you have a choice, it doesn’t mean that any of them has to be right.” –The Dodecahedron

17. “Just because you can never reach it doesn’t mean that it’s not worth looking for.” –The Halfchild

18. “You’ll find that the only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that’s hardly worth the effort” –The Mathemagician

19. “Why is it that quite often even the things which are correct just don’t seem to be right?” –Milo

20. “My goodness, everybody is so terribly sensitive about the things they know best” –Milo

21. “You often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons” –The Princess of Pure Reason

22. “It’s not just learning things that’s important. It’s learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things at all that matters.” – Princess of Sweet Rhyme

23. “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.” – The Princess of Pure Reason

24. “The many places you would like to see are just of the map and many things that you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you’ll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow” –The Princess of Sweet Rhyme

25. “What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do” –The Princess of Sweet Rhyme

26. “So many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” –The King and the Mathemagician

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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