Between 2004 and 2009, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction published a story that was basically about a grown-up Milo from The Phantom Tollbooth meeting the grown-up Max from Where the Wild Things Are.

I think there's some other references to stories where children find their way to secondary fantasy worlds.

1 Answer 1


The story is "Unpossible" by Daryl Gregory. It appeared in FSF October/November 2007. It may be read here. It features a middle-aged man who, during a midlife crisis following a family tragedy, tries to return to the nostalgia of his youth.

In his journey, he crashes into the Phantom Tollbooth with his recently modified car. He meets an older Dorothy Gale and Toto in her displaced Kansas house. After leaving her, in an attempt to re-enter the fantastic world he found as a child, he encounters an adult Max (Where the Wild Things Are) still wearing his footie wolf suit. Together, they learn a valuable lesson about childhood.

The main character might not be Milo (though Dorothy does refer to him as being possibly "the Tollbooth kid"), the presence of the Wonder Bike indicates that he may not be Milo. While I was unable to determine a children's story featuring a kid with a Wonder Bike, it's likely that the main character is just an amalgum generic storybook kid turned adult.

I emailed the author. He confirmed that the main character was not Milo, saying:

The character in "Unpossible" is the grownup hero of his own childhood adventure story, which I made up. But thematically, he's a brother to Milo and to Max in Where the Wild Things Are, and even Dorothy -- all being kids who ride a magical vehicle to the other side.

  • 3
    Congrats on answering your own question. I believe it's two days before you can click the "accept" button, but don't forget. :) Also, another recent take on "portal fantasy children grown up" is "Every Heart A Doorway" by Seanan McGuire. Oct 25, 2016 at 17:01
  • Thanks for the reminder. I ended up doing a brute force search to answer my own question. I'll have to check out her book. I read Feed by her (albeit as Mira Grant) and enjoyed it, so here's hoping. Oct 25, 2016 at 19:19
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    It might be nice to include the relevant parts of your e-mail with the author in your response. It sources your claim, and it also is fun to see authors directly responding to Stack Exchange questions. Oct 25, 2016 at 22:48
  • I edited the answer to include a larger part of the quote I had previously used. Is that better? Oct 26, 2016 at 17:32

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