What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Jules Feiffer and G. Brian Karas

h1 November 11th, 2011 by jules


“Then, taking the map and rule book with him, he hopped in and,
for lack of anything better to do, drove slowly up to the tollbooth.”


(Click to enlarge)

This morning over at Kirkus, I discuss A New Year’s Reunion, written by Yu Li-Qiong and illustrated by Zhu Cheng-Liang. That link is here.

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If you missed last week’s column, I weighed in on Norton Juster’s Neville, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. I’ve got some preliminary drawings/materials from that here this morning, thanks to Karas. They’re probably best viewed after seeing the video he made about the creation of the book, which I’ll use to kick things off below.

And, since I opened up that column last week by mentioning Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth, originally published in 1961 and illustrated by Jules Feiffer, as well as Leonard Marcus’s outstanding annotated version of the book, I’ve got some illustrations from that classic children’s novel here this morning, too.

First up is Neville, followed by The Phantom Tollbooth. Enjoy.

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(Click to enlarge)


(Click to enlarge)


“Nobody had asked him about moving. They’d just told him.”
(Click to enlarge)


“…But there wasn’t much else to do,
so he pulled himself to his feet and slowly shuffled away.”

(Click to enlarge this preliminary drawing)


(Click to enlarge)


“‘Come back before it starts to get dark.’ ‘ Yeah, sure.'”
(Click to enlarge)

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“‘It seems to me that almost everything is a waste of time,’ he remarked one day
as he walked dejectedly home from school.”


“Of course, if you’ve ever gotten a surprise package, you can imagine how puzzled and excited Milo was; and if you’ve never gotten one, pay close attention,
because someday you might.”


“Suddenly he found himself speeding along an unfamiliar country highway, and as he looked back over his shoulder neither the tollbooth nor his room nor even the house was anywhere in sight. What had started as make-believe was now very real.”


“‘THE WATCHDOG,’ shouted another, fainting from fright, for racing down the road barking furiously and kicking up a great cloud of dust was
the very dog of whom they had been speaking.”


“Milo’s eyes opened wide, for there in front of him was a large dog with a perfectly normal head, four feet, and a tail—and the body of a loudly ticking alarm clock.”


“‘Help you! You must help yourself,’ the dog replied,
carefully winding himself with his left hind leg.”


“Before long they saw in the distance the towers and flags of Dictionopolis sparkling in the sunshine, and in a few moments they reached the great wall
and stood at the gateway to the city.”


“And, from across the square, five very tall, thin gentlemen dressed in silks and satins, plumed hats, and buckled shoes rushed up to the car, stopped short, mopped five brows, caught five breaths, unrolled five parchments, and began talking in turn.”


“‘Perhaps I can be of some assistance—a-s-s-i-s-t-a-n-c-e,’ buzzed an unfamiliar voice, and when Milo looked up he saw an enormous bee, at least twice his size,
sitting on top of the wagon.”


“‘BALDERDASH!’ shouted a booming voice. And from around the wagon stepped a large beetlelike insect dressed in a lavish coat, striped pants,
checked vest, spats, and a derby hat.”


“‘BAH!’ said the bug, putting an arm around Milo. ‘As soon as you learn to spell one word, they ask you to spell another. You can never catch up—so why bother?
Take my advice, my boy, and forget about it.'”



“Striding across the square was the shortest policeman Milo had ever seen. He was scarcely two feet tall and almost twice as wide, and he wore a blue uniform with white belt and gloves, a peaked cap, and a very fierce expression.”


“‘How true,’ said the unhappy king, resting his regal chin on his royal fist
as he thought fondly of the old days.”


“The side of the house looked very like the front and back, and the door flew open the very instant they knocked. ‘How nice of you to come by,’ exclaimed the man, who could have been the midget’s twin brother. ‘You must be the fat man,’ said Tock, learning not to count too much on appearance.”


“‘Nothing can possibly go wrong now,’ cried the Humbug happily, and as soon as he’d said it he leaped from the car, as if stuck by a pin,
and sailed all the way to the little island.”


“Milo slowly raised his weary head, and there in the horizon, for as far as the eye could see, stood the massed armies of Wisdom, the sun glistening from their swords and shields, and their bright banners slapping proudly at the breeze.”


“‘It’s time to go now,’ said Reason, ‘for there is much to do.’ And, as she spoke, Milo suddenly remembered his home. He wanted very much to go back, yet somehow
he could not bear the thought of leaving.”


“And, in the very room in which he sat, there were books that could take you anywhere, and things to invent, and make, and build, and break, and all the puzzle and excitement of everything he didn’t know—music to play, songs to sing, and worlds to imagine and then someday make real. His thoughts darted eagerly about as everything looked new—and worth trying.”

* * * * * * *

NEVILLE. Text copyright © 2011 by Norton Juster. Illustrations copyright © 2011 by G. Brian Karas. Published by Schwartz & Wade Books, New York, NY. Images reproduced by permission of G. Brian Karas.

THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH. Text copyright © 1961 by Norton Juster. Illustrations copyright © 1961 by Jules Feiffer. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. Images reproduced by permission of publisher.

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4 comments to “What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week,
Plus What I Did Last Week,
Featuring Jules Feiffer and G. Brian Karas”

  1. I’ve been tapping my foot waiting for our copy of Neville to come in, but it hasn’t yet. You know how I love that G. Brian Karas.


  2. Adrienne, I think you’ll really like it. It’s specialness.


  3. Always so nice to see Phantom Tollbooth… one of the loveliest books ever.


  4. Hi I would like to know who the police man is caricatured as?


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