Feature

Author of the week: Norton Juster

Juster has collaborated with Jules Feiffer to produce their first book together since their classic, The Phantom Tollbooth, was published fifty years ago.

Norton Juster’s latest collaboration with illustrator Jules Feiffer went well—so well that the pair may try working together again in another half-century, said Sharon Verbeten in BookPage. That’s the joke the two friends make now that they’ve published their first book together since the 1961 children’s classic The Phantom Tollbooth. The new book, The Odious Ogre, grew out of an idea of Juster’s that itself was at least three decades old. “I scribbled it down, occasionally took it out, messed with it,” he says. “Then, about a year ago, I thought, ‘I think I know what to do with it.’” His editor brought Feiffer in. “I was in heaven,” Juster says. “Jules is reluctant to do illustrations for other people’s books.”

Both men are now 81, but otherwise the process was just like old times, said Kathleen Mellen in the Northampton, Mass., Gazette. “You have to trust your illustrator,” Juster says. Tollbooth originally came about because Juster was Feiffer’s­ neighbor in a Brooklyn duplex. While putting off writing a book on urban design, the young architect started writing a story about a kid named Milo instead. After every chapter, he’d run downstairs to share the growing manuscript with his cartoonist pal, whose scribbled drawings hit just the right chord. Looking back on both projects, Juster says that all he can really remember is losing himself in the work. When “you realize you’ve done it, it washes over you,” he says. “It’s such a wonderful thing.”

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