Phantom Tollbooth, Real Friends

October 11th, 2009 by

The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer

If you’re an avid follower of Kidsmomo (and let’s face it, everyone should be), then you know that our next theme after mysteries is books about road trips. Well, the other day Nancy and I were discussing what counts as a “road trip,” and she brought up one of her favorite books ever, The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

We still haven’t decided if it qualifies for our road trip theme, but either way, if you haven’t read the book, then you definitely should. It’s about a boy’s journey through a magical land where he — among other adventures — meets a watchdog that truly has a clock for its body, gets thrown in prison, and eventually leads the mission to rescue two banished princesses.

Of course, if you’re already a fan of the book, then this post has so far been old news to you. But here’s something that I personally just learned: did you know that Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer were roommates when they worked on The Phantom Tollbooth together? That was back before they were famous — just two friends with a shared project. Little did they know that one day, their book would be considered a classic!

Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer (Photo from Publisher's Weekly)

Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer (Photos from Publisher's Weekly, my source for this awesome author history!)

And the story gets even better, because guess how Juster and Feiffer met: while taking out the trash! Apparently, they lived in the same apartment building in NYC and they just hit it off one day, chatting over the garbage cans. When their landlady kicked them out (in order to fix up the building, not because they were bad tenants), that’s when Feiffer and Juster decided to rent a place together. And thank goodness they did, because otherwise the world probably never would have known The Phantom Tollbooth!

Kind of like how if Nancy and I weren’t friends, humanity would have been deprived of the wonder that is Kidsmomo. What a tragedy that would have been, right? Right?

— Karen

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