'Phantom Tollbooth' Author Norton Juster Dies At 91

Mar 9, 2021

The well-known children's book author Norton Juster has died at age 91. Juster started out as a New Yorker, but spent the last few decades of his life in western Massachusetts.

"The Phantom Tollbooth," his most highly-acclaimed book, was illustrated by cartoonist and playwright Jules Feiffer and published in 1961.

But Juster's writing career got off to a rocky start. In a 2017 interview, he told NEPM adults thought the book, which was filled with puns, too sophisticated.

"Teachers, librarians, they all came back the same way: 'This is not a children's book. The vocabulary is so difficult, they will never tolerate or read it,'" Juster said.

"The Phantom Tollbooth" went on to sell millions of copies. 

Credit Keith Trice / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/metroprimes

Juster said that Milo, the bored protagonist who drove a car into lands like Rhyme and Reason and Jumping to Conclusions, was himself as a child.

Juster was an architect as well as a writer, and taught at Hampshire College until the early 1990s. His wife, Jeanne Juster, died in 2018.