The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

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Chapter 11 Summary

Dischord and Dynne

At exactly 5:22 (Tock’s clock is very accurate), Milo sees the sky is still black, dark blue, and purple, though the sun will rise in just a moment. The others are still asleep. Milo must wake Chroma. Suddenly Milo wonders what it would be like to conduct the orchestra and color the world. He thinks it cannot be too difficult because the musicians undoubtedly know what to play, and it would be a shame to wake Chroma so early. Besides, this might be his only opportunity to try such a thing. The musicians are already poised to play, and he would only direct them for a short time.

Milo stands on tiptoe and makes the tiniest gesture to the orchestra at 5:23. A single piccolo trills a note, one tiny ray of light appears, and Milo is thrilled; he makes a slightly more noticeable gesture and a few more instruments play as several more rays of light dance into view. Soon every instrument is playing and the entire forest is washed in color.

Milo is overjoyed and signals for the musicians to stop so he can wake Chroma. Unfortunately, the musicians continue playing even louder than before until the colors are so brilliant that Milo can hardly bear to look. A curious thing happens when Milo shields his eyes with one hand and desperately waves to the musicians. The sky slowly turns a deep red and flurries of light-green snow begin to fall as the foliage turns a brilliant orange. The flowers are now black, the gray rocks turn chartreuse, and Tock is no longer brown but ultramarine. Nothing is the color it should be and the more Milo tries to repair the damage, the worse it becomes.

Now he wishes he had not started the music. In just a few minutes, the sun rises and sets seven times. Milo is exhausted and drops his hands; when he does, the orchestra stops. It is 5:27 a.m., and it is dark once again. Now Milo runs to wake Chroma. Then the day begins exactly as it should have under Chroma’s direction. No one knows about those disastrous four minutes except anyone who happened to be awake.

Before the travelers leave him, Alec gives Milo a telescope through which he can see things as they really are. Milo drives into a valley and in the distance they see a carnival wagon parked at the side of the road. The wagon reads, “Kakofonous A. Dischord: Doctor of Dissonance.” Milo timidly knocks on the door and immediately hears what sounds like an entire set of dishes falling hard to the floor. The voice invites the travelers inside the wagon.

The wagon is dimly lit. The man dressed like a mad scientist remarks that none of them looks very well. He introduces himself with a roar as several crashes and small explosions sound around them. The Humbug timidly asks what the A in the doctor’s name means, and the doctor bellows the answer: “AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE.” His response is accompanied by several screeches and a bump. He asks the travelers to come a bit closer and stick out their tongues before he flips through an old, dusty book. His...

(The entire section is 802 words.)