Juster was born in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Samuel Juster, was a Romanian born Jew, and became an architect through a correspondence course. His mother, Minnie Silberman, came from a Polish Jewish background. His brother, Howard, became an architect as well.
In 1954, Juster enlisted in the Civil Engineer Corps of the United States Navy, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. During one tour, to combat boredom, he began to write and illustrate a story for children, but the commanding officer later reprimanded him for it. Still, Juster finished an unpublished satirical fairy tale called "The Passing of Irving".
Later posted in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, again to combat boredom, he made up a non-existent military publication called the Naval News Service as a scheme to request interviews with attractive women. It worked so well that a neighbor asked to come along as his assistant.
His next scheme was to make the "Garibaldi Society" (inspired by a statue in Washington Square Park), whose raison d'être was to reject anyone who applied for membership, designing an impressive logo, application, and rejection letter. It was at this time he met Jules Feiffer while taking out the trash.
About 6 months after meeting Feiffer, Juster received his discharge from the Navy, and worked for a Manhattan architectural firm, with some part-time teaching, and other jobs. Juster, Feiffer, and another friend rented an apartment on State Street. Juster also resorted to pulling pranks occasionally on Feiffer.
Juster's celebrated children's novel, The Phantom Tollbooth, was published in 1961, with Feiffer doing the drawings. Although he enjoyed writing, his architectural career remained his primary emphasis. He served as a professor of architecture and environmental design at Hampshire College from its first trimester in 1970 until his retirement in 1992.
Juster co-founded a small architectural firm, Juster Pope Associates, in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, in 1970. The firm was renamed Juster Pope Frazier after Jack Frazier joined the firm in 1978.
Juster currently lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with his wife, Jeanne. Although he has retired from architecture, he still writes. His book The Hello, Goodbye Window, published May 15, 2005, won the Caldecott Medal for Chris Raschka's illustration in 2006. The sequel, Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie, was published in 2008. His most famous publication continues to be The Phantom Tollbooth.
- The Phantom Tollbooth (1961) (ISBN 0-394-81500-9) illustrated by Jules Feiffer
- The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1963) (ISBN 1-58717-066-3)
- Alberic the Wise and Other Journeys (1965) (ISBN 0-88708-243-2)
- Stark Naked: A Paranomastic Odyssey (1969) (Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 71-85568)— illustrated by Arnold Roth
- So Sweet to Labor: Rural Women in America 1865-1895 (editor) (1979) (ISBN 0-670-65483-3) — non-fiction
- Otter Nonsense (1982) (ISBN 0-399-20932-8) — illustrated by Eric Carle
- As: A Surfeit of Similes (1989) (ISBN 0-688-08139-8)
- A Woman's Place: Yesterday's Women in Rural America (1996) (ISBN 1-55591-250-8) — non-fiction
- The Hello, Goodbye Window (2005) (ISBN 0-7868-0914-0) — illustrated by Chris Raschka
- Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie (2008) (ISBN 9780439929431) – illustrated by Chris Raschka
- The Odious Ogre (2010) (ISBN 0-545-16202-5) – Illustrated by Jules Feiffer
- Neville (2011) (ISBN 0375867651/ISBN 978-0375867651) – illustrated by G.Brian Karas
There have been musical settings of a "A Colorful Symphony" from The Phantom Tollbooth for narrator and orchestra and of The Dot and the Line for narrator and chamber ensemble by composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez.
- Juster, Norton. Annotated Phantom Tollbooth p. x
- Annotated Phantom Tollbooth p. xvii
- Annotated Phantom Tollbooth p. xviii
- Annotated Phantom Tollbooth, xviii
- "Norton Juster Biography". Scholastic.
- The Phantom Tollbooth Nov 16th – Dec 16th, 2007, Kennedy Center. (Retrieved November 28th, 2007)
- "Norton Juster". Kids LibraryPoint. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
- MTI Author Biography
- Powells.com interview
- Salon.com interview
- Underdown.org interview
- Adam Gopnik profile, The New Yorker, 10/17/2011