I had the pleasure to meet Norton Juster years ago when he visited Kids' Ink Children's Bookstore in Indianapolis,where I was a bookseller at the time. You can imagine my excitement, because, as previously mentioned, The Phantom Tollbooth is one of my all-time favorites. The bookstore had to keep it in stock constantly because I recommended it to so many people. Not surprising, everyone I talked to bought the book (unless they had already read it). Who could pass on a story filled with wordplay and puns, about a boy who was bored all the time, even though he had every conceivable toy. One day Milo finds a tollbooth in his room, drives his toy car though, and finds himself in another land. The kingdom of letters and the kingdom of numbers, ruled by two brothers, kings who had become enemies since the disappearance of the princesses, Rhyme and Reason. Milo ventures on a quest to rescue the princesses and restore peace to the land.
According to Norton, he based much of the book's humor on the Marx brothers--the bantering, puns and punch-lines you missed if you didn't pay attention. The Phantom Tollbooth is a literary read that challenges the reader with subtle, adult humor.
"I had told my wife I was writing the great American novel," Norton joked. "She soon found out it was true." And most certainly, The Phantom Tollbooth has become a classic of American literature.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer
Knopf, $6.99Middle-grade fantasy, adventure, word play, puns, riddles, Ages 8+
Author of The Phantom Tollbooth, a must read
for any child who’s ever been bored.
The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, a children's literary classic that will forever remain one of my All-Time Favorites
Norton signing at Kids Ink
Kim Childress (me) with Norton Juster
Kids' Ink Children's Bookstore
in Indianapolis, 1996