Many Moons by James Thurber
Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
Published by Harcourt Brace and Company
1943 (Caldecott Medal 1944)
Once upon a time, there lived a ten year old princess named Lenore. "Lenore fell ill of a surfeit of raspberry tarts." The King came to see what could be done to help his daughter and offered to get her anything her heart desired. "I want the moon. If I can have the moon I will be well again." The King called, one by one, his most trusted advisors, but all explained that it was impossible to bring the moon to the Princess. Only the court jester ends up being wise enough to solve the problem (with a lot of help from the Princess herself).
Many Moons makes me glad I joined the Caldecott Challenge (I might not have read it had it not been on the list of Caldecott winers). I loved it! The story is long (I prefer the longer picture books) and truly entertaining...and hilarious. The list of things/accomplishments that each of the King's advisors shared is priceless: from the most outrageous claims (blue poodles), to the last items on each list which, they explain, were added by their wives. Also, for those of us that carry Harry Potter on our brains forever, I couldn't help smiling when I came across the Royal Wizard listing a philosopher's stone and an invisibility cloak.
Here is a little taste of the sense of humor in its pages:
The Lord High Chamberlain was a large, fat man who wore thick glasses which made his eyes seem twice as big as they really were. This made the Lord High Chamberlain seem twice as wise as he really was.
The Royal Wizard looked at his list again. 'I got you,' he said, 'horns from Elfland, sand from the Sandman, and gold from the rainbow. Also a spool of thread, a paper of needles, and a lump of beeswax -sorry, those are things my wife wrote down for me to get her.'Many Moons will be undoubtedly added to my shelf of favorite picture books. Don't miss it!