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‘Phantom Tollbooth’ author Norton Juster dies at 91

Author Norton Juster at his home.The Boston Globe/Boston Globe

Norton Juster, the beloved children’s book author who wrote “The Phantom Tollbooth” and “The Dot and the Line,” has died, according to his publisher. He was 91.

Mr. Juster’s death was confirmed by Penguin Random House, but the date and cause were not immediately available.

Children’s author and illustrator Mo Willems shared the news of the death on Twitter on Tuesday. “My lunch partner, Norton Juster, ran out of stories and passed peacefully last night. Best known for THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH + THE DOT & THE LINE, Norton’s greatest work was himself: a tapestry of delightful tales. Miss him,” he wrote in a tweet. In the end, Willems quoted a line from “The Dot and the Line:” “To the vector goes the spoils.”


A Northampton resident, Mr. Juster wrote a total of 12 children’s books in his lifetime, with his most recent, “Neville,” published in 2011.

He was best-known for 1961′s “The Phantom Tollbooth,” a whimsical tale following young Milo, who finds a magical toy tollbooth in his room. The pun-filled book won a George C. Stone Centre for Children’s Books award and was later made into a feature film and musical.

“The Dot and the Line,” a humorous tale of a straight line in love with a red dot published in 1963, also was adapted into an award-winning short animation.

Norton Juster waved from his 'hello, goodbye window,' which is the title of his 2001 book.Terri Cappucci Globe Photo/file

Norton Juster, who was born in Brooklyn, continued his work in architecture for several decades while writing children’s books. He first studied at the University of Pennsylvania before moving to England on a Fulbright Scholarship for graduate work in urban planning, per the Scholastic website. Then he spent three years in the Navy, after which he opened his own architectural firm in New York.

Later in life, he taught architecture and design at Hampshire College in Amherst and the Pratt Institute of New York. He eventually left academia to continue writing.


Mr. Juster reflected on the continued success of books like “The Phantom Tollbooth” in a 2011 interview with NPR: “Today’s world of texting and tweeting is quite a different place, but children are still the same as they’ve always been ... Well, one thing has changed: as many states eliminate tolls on highways, some children may never encounter a real tollbooth. Luckily there are other routes to the Lands Beyond.”

Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @ditikohli_.

Diti Kohli can be reached at diti.kohli@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @ditikohli_.