R.I.P. Norton Juster

I was lucky enough to hear Norton Juster (1929–2021) speak at the Boston Public Library a few years ago, and brought a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth that had been passed down from my mother to me. I half-apologized for its well-loved appearance.

“It’s either well-loved or well-hated,” he said.

“Well-loved,” I repeated.

Fortunately for us all, I don’t currently have the cassette from fifth grade with the recording of myself “interviewing” Milo, whose voice sounded a lot like a lower version of mine. I like to think it’s somewhere in Dictionopolis.



Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She is a current member of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee, and has served on the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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Paula Spizziri

I went to the same interview and book-signing! Meeting him was one of the highlights of my life. We had a nice conversation about how my favorite chapter was the one about conducting the sunrise and he told the story I've heard elsewhere about how his editors wanted to take it out of the book b/c it didn't really advance the plot, but that was the one thing he stood firm on. <3 My friend wrote to him after her niece's signed copy was destroyed in a house fire. He sent back a lovely note and a signed copy for each of them.

Posted : Mar 28, 2021 04:05

Carol Levin

The Phantom Tollbooth was one of my favorite books and I so enjoyed passing on its clever humor and wry wordplay to both my children and the children at the library where I worked for a quarter century. I think any child lucky enough to accompany Milo and Tock on their adventures carries throughout their lives. RIP Norton Juster.

Posted : Mar 12, 2021 04:33

Paula Spizziri

<3 And such a wonderful book to be read aloud!

Posted : Mar 12, 2021 04:33


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