"Never mind the blue poodles," said the King. "What I want now is the moon."
The Princess Lenore has fallen ill of "a surfeit of raspberry tarts." She claims that she will only be made well again if she can have the moon.
The King is determined to get it for her, but neither the Lord High Chamberlain nor the Royal Wizard nor the Royal Mathematician can obtain it, though they have procured for the King any number of other things such as blue poodles, ambergris, gold from the rainbow, the square of the hippopotamus, two dozen eggs, and a sack of sugar—sorry, the Lord High Chamberlain's wife wrote those last two.
The King is most distressed, for nobody knows how to get the moon. But the wise Court Jester may have the solution. The one person the King has forgotten to ask is—Princess Lenore herself.
You have to love a picture book that takes children seriously enough to include the word "surfeit" in its opening lines. This is an intelligent story, one that adults may laugh at as much as (or more than) children. In typical Thurber style the story is full of funny situations, witty lists and hilarious backtalk. Slobodkin's fantastic illustrations depict the fantastic items in sweeping columns around the margins of the text.
Louis Slobodkin was not originally an artist, but a sculptor. It was Eleanor Estes who convinced him to illustrate The Moffats and this launched him into his career illustrating children's books. He was well suited to it, and his illustrations for Many Moons deserved the Caldecott medal. With just a few carefully placed lines and squiggles, fun details and bright pinks and aquas he suggests a dreamy world full of warm, rounded characters.
Though Slobodkin's illustrations won the Caldecott, the book was reprinted in 1990 with illustrations by Marc Simont. Simont worked with Thurber on a number of picture books, including Thirteen Clocks and Wonderful O, and was a close personal friend of Thurber. We like Simont's other collaborations with Thurber, but we favor Slobodkin's originals for Many Moons.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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