Saturday, 3 June 2017

JUNE'S AUTHOR by Sharon Tregenza


Norton Juster was born on June 2nd 1929 in Brooklyn, New York City.

Norton Juster

His father, Samuel, was born in Romania and became an architect through a correspondence course. His mother was Minnie Silberman. He says of his childhood: 'I had been an odd child - quiet, introverted and moody. Little was expected from me. Everyone left me alone to wander around inside my head. When I grew up I still felt like that puzzled kid.'

In 1954, Juster enlisted in the Navy. During one tour he began to write and illustrate a story for children. Always the prankster, when he was posted in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he created a non existent military publication as a scheme to request interviews with women. 

After three years in the navy and while working as an architect, he got a grant to do a book on cities for children. When that didn't work out he turned to writing what was to become 'The Phantom Tollbooth'.

His housemate, Jules Feiffer, a cartoonist became interested in the project. Since Juster did the cooking for the housemates, If Feiffer wanted to eat, he had to do the drawings.  It became a game between them with Juster trying to describe things that were impossible to sketch.

Jules Feiffer

Not everyone liked 'The Phantom Tollbooth'. Some said it wasn't a children's book and that the ideas and vocabulary was too difficult for kids. I loved it as a child, although, yes, some of the cleverness was lost on me then. But that made it an even more exciting book when I later read it as an adult. It remains one of my all time favourites. 

Five fabulous quotes from 'The Phantom Tollbooth:

“Whether or not you find your own way, you're bound to find some way. If you happen to find my way, please return it, as it was lost years ago. I imagine by now it's quite rusty.” 

“So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible.” 

“Expect everything, I always say, and the unexpected never happens.” 

“Have you ever heard a blindfolded octopus unwrap a cellophane-covered bathtub?” 

 “Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going.” 



Mystica said...

Thanks for the review on an unusual book.

Sue Purkiss said...


Sharon Tregenza said...

Thanks, Mystica. It is an unusual book. One of my all time favourites. :)

Sharon Tregenza said...

Thanks, Sue. x