Phantom Tollbooth: Event Recap & Book Giveaway!

June 2nd, 2014 by


Have you ever traveled to Digitopolis, Dictionopolis, or the Mountains of Ignorance? Have you perchance ever met a Humbug or a watchdog named Tock? Or maybe you’ve eaten your words, or perhaps sampled some Subtraction Stew?

If you’re nodding your head right now, then that means you’re part of an ever-growing club where all the members greet each other like long-lost family — even if they’re total strangers. That’s because the club is people who have read and loved The Phantom Tollbooth, written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, and we are all united in our fierce devotion to the book.

(If you haven’t read the book yet, don’t worry — you can enter our sweepstakes below for a chance to win your own autographed copy!)

Recently, we attended an event put on by some extra dedicated members of the unofficial Phantom Tollboth fan club — who just happen to be famous authors! They gathered at McNally Jackson bookstore in New York, took on roles from the book, and performed a scene from the story.



Check out their rendition of eating a square meal (in this case, what appeared to be construction paper cut into squares):

Here’s the full cast of characters:

  • Sophie Blackall (Ivy and Bean illustrator) – Officer Short Shrift
  • Matthew Cody (Powerless author) – King Azaz
  • Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm author) – the Earl of Essence
  • Claire Legrand (The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls author) – the Spelling Bee
  • Kekla Magoon (Camo Girl author) – the Humbug
  • Kate Milford (The Boneshaker author) – the Undersecretary of Understanding
  • Michael Northrop (Plunked author) – the Count of Connotation
  • Jeffrey Salane (Lawless author) – Tock
  • Courtney Sheinmel (My So-Called Family author) – the Minister of Meaning
  • Natalie Standiford (The Secret Tree author) – Milo
  • Mary Thompson (Escape From the Pipe Men! author) – the Duke of Definition

Barbara Marcus, President/Publisher of Random House Children’s Books

After the performance all the authors answered questions from the audience, and some editors from Random House (the publishers of The Phantom Tollbooth) divulged behind-the-scenes info about how the book came to be.

For example, did you know that Norton Juster wrote The Phantom Tollbooth as a form of procrastination because he didn’t want to work on a different nonfiction book that he was getting paid to write? And guess what — he never did end up finishing that other book!

(For another fun behind-the-scenes story about the books origins, check out this Kidsmomo post from a few years ago.)

We wish you all could have been there with us for this one-of-a-kind event. But since we unfortunately don’t possess the power to transport people through space and time, instead we’ll just offer the next best thing: a book giveaway!


Enter before July 1st! See official rules.

This sweepstakes has ended.

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