Many Moons

Common Sense Media says

A charming and well-illustrated tale.




Caldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Violence & scariness
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's nothing of concern in this classic, which has been enjoyed by adults and children for more than half a century.

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What's the story?

All the king's specialists can't get the moon for his daughter, but the jester does. How? By asking the princess the right questions and acting on her answers. There's another worrisome problem, and again it's the jester who sees the solution--after the princess points it out. Kids will appreciate that a child helps solve the problem in this charming and well-illustrated tale.

Is it any good?


This re-illustrated classic comes stylishly dressed in Marc Simont's watercolors, which sweep across the pages. The jester leaps into the king's presence, the king eloquently frowns at the royal mathematician's swarm of equations, and the princess assesses the moon as she stands in a shadow.

James Thurber's text is graceful and witty. Ten-year-old Lenore's illness isn't all that serious, but her father's reaction to it is touching: She wants the moon, he'll get her the moon. The silly wise men's lists of their absurd accomplishments are mixed with their wives' shopping lists, adding extra humor. Kids will appreciate that the young princess and the childlike jester solve the story's problems.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about wisdom. Why do the wise men all have different ideas about the moon?

Book details

Author:James Thurber
Illustrator:Marc Simont
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Harcourt Brace
Publication date:April 1, 1981
Number of pages:48
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

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Educator and Parent Written bydeannad44 October 8, 2012


Many Moons won the Caldecott award in 1944 for its beautiful illustrations by Louis Slobodkin. His art consists of watercolor commenced with ink to create simplistic, yet definitive masterpieces. Slobodkin mainly uses the primary colors washed on to a white background. His work looks effortlessly done, beautifully compliments the text, and draws attention to the eye. The king is faced with a conflict when he discovers that his daughter, Lenore, the princess, has become ill from eating too many tarts. The only thing that perhaps can make her better is if she were to have the moon. Can the king, who has everything he has ever wanted, satisfy his princess' request? The book builds up the challenge he is faced with. After consulting with his wise men, the only one to figure out that maybe he should directly ask the princess what she is really looking for when she says "the moon", is the jester. Everyone else just considers it impossible. The jester reports back to the king that Lenore says the moon is, "just a little smaller than my thumbnail," and "gold, of course, silly", baffling her elders. So, he has a little golden charm on a necklace made for the princess. He also gathers that the princess believes the moon grows back, like teeth and flowers, even though it is around her neck. The princess becomes better from being more so sick at heart. This book is fiction fantasy that addresses topics such as point of view, perspective, wisdom, philosophy, and free thinking. The title, Many Moons, is implicit in the story as that, many different people view the moon differently and there is no right or wrong. Teachers can utilize this book to encourage children to think outside the box. We can also use this story to bring attention to the fact that no every one perceives things in the same way. This children's picture book includes very sophisticated vocabulary, but can be easily understood and appreciated by children and adults of all ages.
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