I have selected a golden oldie to celebrate Princess Week.
By James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
Published by Voyager Books, 1943
Awards: Recipient of the Caldecott Medal in 1944
Themes: Moon, princesses, wisdom, foolishness, fairy tale
“Once upon a time in a kingdom by the sea, there lived a little Princess named Lenore. She was ten years old, going on eleven. One day Leonore fell ill of a surfeit of raspberry tarts and took to her bed.”
Princess Lenore is sick from tart overdosing, and the only thing that will cure her ailment, she says, is to own the moon. So the King calls on his top wizards and councilmen to try to figure out how to grant the little girl’s wish. The Lord High Chamberlain, the Royal Wizard and the Royal Mathematician, each has a different, scientific, logical and useless solution for the problem. Enter, of course, the Court Jester, whose simple resolution you will need to read the book to discover.
Why I like this book: The hilarious 1944 Caldecott-winning book, written by well known humorist, James Thurber, makes a fantastic read-aloud to older children. Adults will especially like the humor, while children will love the ludicrous nature of the “wise” men’s suggestions, and the wisdom of the court fool, as well as and the build up to the story’s climax and satisfying solution. This is, as typical from its date, a LONG picture book and, with some complex language (surfeit anyone?), so will need to be kept for older elementary children. It is a masterly crafted fairy tale with some tongue in cheek wit, mockery of the at times boxed world view of adults, and with some beautiful language choices. I love saying and seeing “blue poodles”, don’t you? The drawings remind me enormously of those in Madeline, which shouldn’t surprise me as it is from the same era! I love this look at child/adult perception and appreciate the whimsy and word choice. I think you will fall afresh in love with the crescent moon after reading this sweet story! The final light shines on the jester and the little princess, whose combined sense reveals a good lesson that children and the humble ones often have the resources to work things out.
Watch and chart a waxing and waning moon for a month with the kids.
This story has some great roles and totally gives itself to reenacting!
To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books. Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays badge in the right sidebar.
This is also part of Gathering Books’ Award Winning Books 2012 Challenge.