Many Moons (By James Thurber, Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin)

Published in 1943, Caldecott Winner of 1944


A court jester is rarely a hero, an exception would be Many Moons by James Thurber. This is the story of a princess named Lenore who fell ill from eating too many sweets. When the king promises her anything if only she will get better, she clearly states: “I want the moon. If I can have the moon, I will be well again.” The king at a loss on how to please the princess summons his three wise men who all clearly point out the extraordinary things they have gotten for the king in the past, but now clearly state it is impossible with one boldly stating the moon is made out of green cheese. The jester is summoned to cheer the king; however, the jester is a wise man and proposes to the king that he should go directly to the princess and find out from her how big the moon is and how far away she must travel to it. The practical princess answers the moon is a little smaller than my thumbnail and it is not as high as the tree outside my window also adding it made of gold. The wise jester then has gold neckless in the shape of the moon made just for her. All proves well for the girl, except the next day the king does not want the princess to see the moon at night in the sky with him thinking that the princess will be sad if the moon is not around her neck. The wise men are again consulted, but again it is the Jester that provides the wise answer: the princess knows more about the moon than the wise men. The jester than proceeds to ask the princess “how can the moon be shining in the sky when it is hanging on a golden chain around your neck?” A simple but wise answer is given….

A Bookish Decree: The Jester and the Princess are the wise ones filled with simplicity.

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