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Regional News

'Phantom Tollbooth' Author Norton Juster Dies At 91

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. 

Norton Juster's "The Phantom Tollbooth."
Credit Keith Trice / Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/metroprimes
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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.

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