If you have a child, or if you’ve been a child in the past sixty years, you’re familiar with Norton Juster’s classic book, The Phantom Tollbooth. USA Today reported that Juster had died at the age of 91. For many American children, The Phantom Tollbooth is the first “chapter book” they read. Excerpts are included in many grammar school reading books.
Norton Juster was born June 2, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York, USA, and passed away of natural causes March 8, 2021 in Northampton, Massachusetts. He was both architect and an author.
He served honorably in the United States Navy after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture. He founded an architectural firm, where he worked for many years. From 1970 to 1992, he was a professor of architecture and environmental design at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Juster was married for 54 years to his wife, Jeanne Ray; she predeceased him in 2018.
Norton Juster wrote twelve books. Two of them, The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, were filmed by Chuck Jones of Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry fame.
The Phantom Tollbooth was made into a movie starring Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster of The Munsters, Mark in Lidsville.) It was later made into a musical. It has been compared to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Pilgrim’s Progress. Emily Maxwell said, “As Pilgrim’s Progress is concerned with the awakening of the sluggardly spirit, The Phantom Tollbooth is concerned with the awakening of the lazy mind.”
If you haven’t read The Phantom Tollbooth since you were a child, or if you’ve never read it, go to your library or your bookstore. You have a treat waiting for you.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.