Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Many Moons

I have a special picture book review today. It might take some work to find it at your local library or bookstore because it was written many moons ago, in 1943, but it'd be worth it:

Many Moons by James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin

I picked this book up for two reasons:

1) It's written by James Thurber, a humorist who grew up in and began his writing career in Columbus, OH. I would have loved to have met him. He traveled in the same circles as Dorothy Parker and E.B. White, had a career at The New Yorker... Oh, I just love it.

2) It won the Caldecott medal in 1944. My favorite book award is the Caldecott. I love picture book art. The illustrations are often what draw me to a book in the first place.

So, I curled up in bed last night and read this fantastic fantasy-fairy-tale of a picture book after the kids were in bed. I savored every word. I honestly felt myself smiling as I read it. It's light and fun, but also sweet and a little sentimental. It has a nice message about the innocence and creativity of children. You could even say that it's sort of a cautionary tale about over-thinking things and the difficulty in making a choice when you're presented with too many options.

As I read this tale (about a young princess who has taken ill and tells her father that the only way she'll get better is by having the moon), I once again had the feeling that kids' books today lack description. They lack language--beautiful language.

Without being wordy, Thurber incorporates lovely detail into this story.

For example, Princess Lenore is 10 years old, going on 11. A minor detail, yes, but what kid wouldn't pick up on that and identify with it? My 3 year-old is offended if we don't remember to tack on the "and a half" when we tell someone his age. And, his birthday is three months away, but he is already in a birthday-excitement-frenzy.

There's just a little extra something that "10 years old, going on 11" adds to the tone of the story as well as to the character.

I also enjoyed the fact that Thurber introduces each new character. They don't just pop in; they are introduced and have a backstory.

Many Moons is definitely an "escape" read. Each little detail, paired with the narrative and the illustrations sweep readers in. So refreshing! Check it out.

And, for those of you who are local, have you ever visited the Thurber House? I'm disappointed that I haven't yet, but I'll get there.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I'll have to check this out..I've always enjoyed James Thurber. A fun Amanda fact: I played his mother in a HS play about his childhood (it was called Jabberwocky). I haven't been to the Thurber House since walking there from my elementary school many many years ago. Need to go!