Many Moons

by James Thurber

Illustrated by Marc Simont; Artwork copyright 1990

Published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1943; Copyright renewed by Rosemary A. Thurber 1970

This newly illustrated version of a classic tells the story of a little princess who is ill, and knows that, more than anything else, she wants the moon.  She will not get better until she gets it.  The clever, sweet court jester determines that the little girl only thinks the moon is as big as her thumbnail, and is made of gold (of course).  He has a necklace made with the moon on it, but is concerned about how she reconciles the fact that the moon still appears in the sky the next evening.  It’s completely reasonable, she says; after all, when one cuts a flower, another one replaces it; when one loses a tooth, another one grows in its place.  It is the same for the moon, she says– another moon has replaced the one around her neck. By consulting the princess herself, the jester has learned about how she looks at the world.  The secret that she does not actually have the moon is safe with him.

I’m not sure of a curricular connection with this book, except for in English literature, as this is a phenomenal book and a classic for good reason.  The complex conflict, numerous characters and verbose narration is hefty enough for even high schoolers to tackle.

Awards: The 1943 illustration by Louis Slobodkin (still in print) is a Caldecott-Winning volume.

Accessed: Augusta County Library

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