Many Moons – 1944 Caldecott Medal

Many Moons, by James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin and awarded the 1944 Caldecott Medal, is set in a royal court where the princess is sick.  She tells her kingly father that if she can have the moon she will be well.  In his desperation to help his daughter get well he calls the Lord High Chamberlain, the Royal Wizard, and the Royal Mathematician who are all unable to produce the object the king requires.  Finally he sadly calls the Court Jester who questions the little princess about her understanding of the moon and is able to bring her a small golden sphere on a chain which she believes is the moon.  The next day the girl is better, but the king again becomes concerned as he realizes the moon will rise again and the princess’s poor condition will return as she sees that she does not have the real moon.  Again the royal advisors are questioned to no avail, but, happily, the Court Jester saves the day by questioning the princess as before.  All is well when it is realized that the princess believes that the moon regenerates every night.

Caldecott Criteria:

1. “Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed.” This artwork of water colorand ink is very interesting, but somewhat abstract on some pages.  I would definitely say the quality of the illustrations varies greatly among the pages.

2. “Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept.” – Although these pictures are more abstract that I would prefer for a picture book, the storyline can be followed pictorially.

3. “Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept.”-  Very whimsical pictures do seem to fit the theme and concept well.

4. “Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures.” – The plot, characters, and setting are clear throughout the book.  I particularly liked the scenes in the bedroom of the princess.  Her giant bed is regally larger than life!

5. “Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.” – My older daughter enjoyed this book, but my second child did not.  I believe this was because she could not clearly make out any of the images in the pictures.


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