NPR—‘Phantom Tollbooth’ Creators Reunited By An ‘Ogre’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fans of a boy named Milo, a watchdog called Tock and a pompous Humbug had reason to rejoice on Wednesday — the day that a picture book called The Odious Ogre was released. Written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, the book marks the first time that Juster and Feiffer have collaborated since creating The Phantom Tollbooth together in the early 1960s.

That initial alliance was, at least in part, a matter of circumstance. "We were sharing a duplex in the wrong end of Brooklyn Heights," Juster tells NPR's Liane Hansen. At the time, the writer had a $5,000 grant to write a book on urban design. Instead, he dreamed up The Phantom Tollbooth. Each time he wrote a chapter, he would run to Feiffer's half of the house and excitedly read it to him. Feiffer began to scribble drawings inspired by the story.

The rest is kid-lit history.

Though Ogre has fewer pages and more pictures than Tollbooth, Juster is wary of labeling it a book for younger readers: "I'm not sure it's for younger kids," he says. "I'm not sure it's for older kids or even adults. I think it's just a good story."

Read or listen to it all and make sure not to miss the spectacular illustration of the ogre throwing a tantrum.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchArtBooksChildren

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