Norton Juster, the celebrated kids’s creator who common a world of journey and punning punditry within the million-selling basic “The Phantom Tollbooth” and remained true to his wide-eyed self in such favorites as “The Dot and the Line” and “Stark Bare,” has died at 91.
Juster’s dying was confirmed Tuesday by a spokesperson for Random Home Youngsters’s Books, who didn’t instantly present particulars. Juster’s good friend and fellow creator Mo Willems tweeted Tuesday that Juster “ran out of tales” and died “peacefully” the night time earlier than.
“Norton’s biggest work was himself: a tapestry of pleasant tales,” Willems wrote.
“The Phantom Tollbooth,” revealed in 1961, adopted the adventures of younger Milo via the Kingdom of Knowledge, a land extending from The Foothills of Confusion to The Valley of Sound, populated by the imperiled princesses Rhyme and Cause and the fearsome Gorgons of Hate and Malice.
Drawings have been offered by his roommate on the time, Jules Feiffer, who would later collaborate with Juster on “The Odious Ogre,” revealed in 2010. Eric Carle of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” fame illustrated Juster’s “Otter Nonsense,” which got here out in 1982.
As Juster wrote within the introduction to a 1999 reissue of “The Phantom Tollbooth,” he first considered the ebook when he was in his late 20s and dealing at an architectural agency in New York Metropolis. He discovered himself questioning, the way in which a baby would possibly, about how individuals relate to the world round them.
He had obtained a grant for a ebook on city planning and spent months researching it earlier than a boy’s “startling” query — overheard by Juster in a restaurant — modified his narrative and altered his life: “What is the largest quantity there may be?”
“I began to compose what I assumed can be a few kid’s confrontation with numbers and phrases and meanings and different unusual ideas which can be imposed on kids,” he wrote. “I beloved the chance to turns issues the other way up and inside out and take pleasure in all of the dangerous jokes and puns and wordplay that my father had launched me to after I was rising up.”
One other Juster admirer, Maurice Sendak, would reward the ebook’s “pleasure and sheer enjoyment of superb lunatic linguistic acrobatics.” A 1970 movie adaptation starred Butch Patrick of “The Munsters” fame, and “The Phantom Tollbooth” was later made right into a musical, with a rating by Arnold Black and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.
Juster’s spouse of 54 years, Jeanne, died in 2018. They’d a daughter, Emily.
Juster, a local of New York Metropolis, was the son and brother of architects and he by no means turned totally from his household craft. He continued to write down books, whereas co-founding the architectural agency Juster Pope Associates, in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, and his tales usually mixed his seemingly reverse presents for construction and absurdity.
“The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Arithmetic” is a love triangle as solely Juster may have imagined — between a straight and straight-laced line, a dotty dot and a swinging squiggle. (Animator Chuck Jones tailored it into an Oscar-winning quick movie).
“Stark Bare” finds an undressed protagonist wandering within the city of Emotional Heights, encountering such characters because the mental Noel Lott and faculty principal Martin Nett.
Juster’s newer tales included “The Whats up, Goodbye Window,” for which illustrator Chris Raschka obtained a Caldecott Medal, and the sequel “Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie.” One challenge he by no means bought round to: that ebook on city planning.
“The humorous factor is that most of the issues I used to be fascinated with for that ebook did discover their manner into ‘The Phantom Tollbooth,’” he wrote in 1999. “Perhaps sometime I am going to get again to it after I’m attempting to keep away from doing one thing else.”
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