Norton Juster is one of my Absolute Favorite Authors of All Time: so imagine my delight when the box of new books this morning contained not one, but two, new Juster books! Now, to be fair, one of them is a new-old book: the 50th anniversary edition of The Phantom Tollbooth. However, this does not make it any less exciting.
The new edition is gorgeous, with Jules Feiffer’s familiar Milo and Tock unchanged, except that Tock is definitely shinier. Philip Pullman, Suzanne Collins, Mo Willems, and more contributed wonderfully inspiring essays for the new edition: each author has a slightly different take on why The Phantom Tollbooth is such an enduring classic. Since my childhood paperback is definitely well-loved, (read: completely unreadable), I dropped a not-so-subtle hint to my mom to pick this one up for Christmas. Whether it’s for someone like me or for a child reading it for the first time, this lovely edition makes a perfect gift.
For the littler ones in your life, Norton Juster has written a funny and moving new picture book, Neville. Most kids have had the experience of moving to a new place: Juster treats this theme with characteristic empathy, recognizing that kids usually don’t have a say in the matter! On the first page, we see a boy standing in front of his new house, his colored shirt contrasting with the black and white background, heightening the sense of isolation. “Nobody had asked him about moving. They’d just told him,” the narrator wryly comments. His mother encourages him to go outside to try and meet some neighborhood kids, and the boy reluctantly sets off for a walk. He does make friends, but in such a clever and charming way that I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you! You’ll love the warmth and ingenuity of this wonderful story. Great for ages 3 and up.