Illustrated by Marc Simont
The Princess Lenore isn’t feeling well, and she asks for just one thing – the moon. She is certain this is the only thing that will make her well again. Her father, the King, summons his most trusted advisors, and tasks them with securing the moon for the Princess. But to a man, they declare this impossible. Until the Jester arrives and looks at the problem from a different angle.
I love Thurber’s storytelling. I’ve previously read another of his fables for children, and I’m equally delighted with this one. Marc Simont’s illustrations are whimsical and perfectly fit Thurber’s text. I found myself poring over them, trying to find all the references in the text … “blood from a turnip,” “a rabbit out of a hat, and a hat out of a rabbit” et al. The fact that the Princess holds the key to the great puzzle no adult can solve will especially delight children, but adults can learn an important lesson as well.
The book was originally published with illustrations by Louis Slobodkin; it remains in print along with this newer version which I read. I’ll have to try to find that original edition to see Slobodkin’s CaldecottAwardwinning work.
I really want to collect the juveniles of James Thurber. I read his adult books when I was a child (along with Robert Benchley, Emily Kimbrough, and Cornelia Otis Skinner) but only discovered this, The 13 Clocks, The Great Quillow, and The Wonderful O after I became a parent.
I did already love the quirky artistic style of Louis Slobodkin from The Middle Moffat and other books by Eleanor Estes. I imagine his work was responsible for helping me think about art as being more than just pretty & realistic pictures, like the horses of Wesley Dennis.
I find it interesting that this book was reissued with art by Marc Simont, even though it was the original art that won the Caldecott. Simont's work is wonderful, too, though... I suppose I'd need both copies of this (and of 13Cs) to have a complete collection....
Anyway, to the story itself. I've probably read it 45 times so far over the years. Not too long, but substantial enough to be savored. Wordplay, heart, wisdom, cleverness, and joy. And juicy vocabulary words. The first page has the obligatory 'once upon a time' introduction, but then there's a page break. Read the second page as if it's the first. Isn't that a great first sentence? The specific detail, and then the word "surfeit." What child isn't going to be intrigued by that word?
Highly recommended to everyone. :)
Years later, in my early twenties, I began reading Dorothy Parker. Which led to reading Robert Benchley. Which led to reading James Thurber. Thurber quickly became one of my favorite authors. But still I did not realize he wrote Many Moons. Not until about ten years later, when I was browsing in a bookstore, and I stumbled upon Many Moons. The version I found then was illustrated by Louis Slobodkin, which was good, but a bit manic and not quite as I remembered the book. Still, I bought the book. And read the book. And enjoyed the book.
A few years after that I was working as a children's librarian. In our department, we had been turning classical literature into puppet shows with quite a bit of success. I decided that Many Moons would be a great choice, so I pulled the book off of the shelf to type up a screenplay. The book on our shelf wasn't the Slobodkin version, though, it was the Marc Simont version, and the illustrations almost perfectly matched the illustrations I had carried in my head for thirty years. I was delighted. And the puppet show, by the way, was delightful.
Marc Simont passed away recently. He was 97, so his passing was sad but not surprising. Although he has illustrated many books, including other stories for Thurber, whenever I see any reference to him, I always think of this book, his Many Moons.
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This charming, whimsical story has plenty of sly humor and a few challenging words (surfeit, physician etc.). Thurber writes about wisdom and the differing perceptions of children and adults. The concept of things being "in the eye of the beholder" is well portrayed by Thurber in this book that is a bit longer than many picture books.
I like the original illustrations by Louis Slobodkin which match the story well. The artwork is mainly in red, blue, black, white, gold and green.
The long lists of his advisors' accomplishments becomes pretty funny and has some funny, interesting items. Their ideas for keeping the Princess from seeing the moon are amusing and silly. The simple logic of the jester is wise indeed, as is Princess Lenore.
For ages K to 3rd, princesses, fantasy, fairy tale, space science, point of view, and James Thurber and Louis Slobodkin. The first time I came across this book was in a sixth grade reading textbook, but the story fascinated me with that particular version's illustrations and its story in how organized, but how thoughtprovoking it truly was. In the story, the King from a kingdom by the sea's daughter, Princess Lenore, has fallen ill, and the one thing that can cure her is the moon. The King seeks help from the Royal High Chamberlain (who looked exactly like Al Roker in the textbook version), the Royal Wizard, and the Royal Mathematician for their assistance, but all they can do is make assumptions about how far the moon is and what it is made of. That leaves him with no other choice but to ask the Royal Jester, who gives this book a twist.
Many Moons teaches us that one's answers to their concerns can often be found in the least expected places, some of which triggered by a sense of reason. How one perceives this tends to vary, but as long as it is effective, that's what matters. While this version's illustrations were a bit lackluster, I cannot help but refer to the illustrations from the textbook source. This book's underlying lesson is one that is bound to stay with you throughout time and its humor certainly has the ability to stick with you.
Many Moons is a great children's book that readers of all ages can enjoy!
This book won the 1944 Caldecott, but this must've been another year where there wasn't much competition. I liked the book, though the story drones on for a bit. The book tells the story of a princess who falls ill and wants the moon, but all of her father's advisors say that the moon is impossible to get, until he asks the Court Jester, who takes a more logicaltoachild approach to the situation. She gets her moon and gets well again. The next night, when the moon reappears, the king is frantically worried and consults all of his advisors again, who don't provide a good solution. The Court Jester just goes up and asks the princess what she thinks of the new moon and she says that of course there is a new moon, because when you take something away like teeth or flowers, there are always something of the same sort to replace it. This book, like "Frederick" by Leo Lionni, can be taught in the classroom as part of a philosophical discussion: http://www.teachingchildrenphilosophy.... Recommended for ages 69, 3 stars. This charming fairytale is sure to put a smile on the faces of children and adults alike. The art is lovely, as one should expect from a Caldecott winner, but, unlike many winners, the story is excellent as well. James Thurber can do no wrong.
Illustrated by Marc Simont