Norton Juster

  • Jan. 5th, 2012 at 11:42 AM
beth_shulman: (Default)
If something is there, you can only see it with your eyes open, but if it isn't there, you can see it just as well with your eyes closed. That's why imaginary things are often easier to see than real ones.

From an Interview with Norton Juster

  • Feb. 20th, 2011 at 6:35 PM
beth_shulman: (book: meg powers)
One of the things that seems to really strike a chord with people in "The Phantom Tollbooth" is Milo's state of mind at the book's beginning: "When he was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in. On the way he thought about coming home, and coming home he thought about going. Wherever he was he wished he were somewhere else, and when he got there he wondered why he'd bothered. Nothing really interested him - least of all the things that should have." I suspect that the first thing people today would say about Milo is that he's depressed.

That was a problem I had back then, too. Milo's not a dysfunctional kid. He's very typical. I kept having to rewrite those sections because I didn't want him to come across as someone who had these deep psychological problems. He just couldn't figure out why he was being oppressed by all these things. When you think about it, kids get an extraordinary number of facts thrown at them, and nothing connects with anything else. As you get older, all these threads begin to appear, and you realize that almost everything you come across connects to six other things that you know about. Kids don't know this. You give them a date, or a historical figure, or some fact in math or science and that's it. They're just disembodied things that don't mean anything. Milo doesn't know where he fits in any of this and why he has to learn all of it.

When the book first came out in the early '60s, the revealed wisdom was that you could not give kids anything to read beyond what they knew already. There were vocabulary lists. Lord help you if you put words in a book for ages 6 to 8, or 8 to 10 that they felt a child of that age couldn't understand. They also thought that fantasy was very bad for children because it disoriented them. It's changed somewhat for the better. The publishers told me that they had great misgivings because they thought that the book was too far beyond children.

But I've found in my travels, talking with kids, that they like the story and if a story is compelling for them, they'll get by any difficulty. They'll get involved with something that interests them. I think that's the great secret; it's being interesting rather than sticking to those artificial standards that they set up.

Some critics have said that kids won't be able understand this book. )

Norton Juster

  • Feb. 1st, 2011 at 1:53 PM
beth_shulman: (Default)
"So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible." (The Phantom Tollbooth)

Norton Juster

  • Oct. 31st, 2010 at 2:54 PM
beth_shulman: (Default)
"The only thing you can do easily is be wrong, and that's hardly worth the effort." (The Phantom Tollbooth)

Norton Juster

  • Sep. 26th, 2010 at 1:46 AM
beth_shulman: (Default)
"...as you know, the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between." (The Phantom Tollbooth)

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