+ The Princess Who Wanted the Moon +

by James Thurber + illustrated by Dodie Masterman

The Princess Who Wanted the Moon illustration

Lord High Chamberlin illustrationPrincess Lenore falls ill from a surfeit of raspberry tarts and takes to her bed. Her father, the King, will get her anything she wants, but what Lenore wants is the moon. The King calls in three advisors and one by one the Lord High Chamberlin, the Royal Wizard and the Royal Matematician are ushered into the throne room only to be of no help, although each has a long list of (amusing) things they have procured for the King over time. It is only when the King summons the Court Jester that solving the problem of how to get the moon for Lenore can really begin.

The Princess Who Wanted the Moon was condensed from the book Many Moons, pulished in 1954. Its illustrator, Louis Slobodkin, won the Caldecott Medal in 1944 for his charming pictures. You can read Many Moons online.

James Thurber

James ThurberJames Thurber was famous for his witty, sometimes charming writing and cartoons, often seen in The New Yorker. He was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1894; he became mostly blind at an early age when he and his brothers played William Tell and one of them shot Thurber in the eye with an arrow.

He wrote many stories and books, including,

  • Is Sex Necessary? or, Why You Feel The Way You Do (1929)
  • The Owl in the Attic and Other Perplexities (1931)
  • The Seal in the Bedroom and Other Predicaments (1932)
  • My Life and Hard Times (1933)
  • The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935)
One great Thurber story is The Catbird Seat, which I first knew when it was read in my english class in Grade 11 or so, at Ridgemont High School in Ottawa, by Willard Pottinger. This would have been about 1969. Pottinger was a gifted and giving reader. He had a deep voice, and great projection, but he also put effort into his reading and brought out the humour to a room of disaffected tenagers. Every time I've read The Catbird Seat since I've heard Pottinger's voice in my ear. Slightly off topic: he also he a tremendous read of Dorothy Parker's story Arrangement in Black and White. I can still see him doing the hand gestures. Fantastic timing.

Thurber died in 1961 and Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio is now a center celebrating his work and the written word in general.

Dodie Masterman

Dodie MastermanDodie Masterman was born Rhoda Glass in Devon, England in 1918. She went to the Slade School of Art. By chance she met Dylan Thomas in Swansea and then again in New York City; there are sketches of Thomas by her, some with his own doodles on the side. She illustrated the Jane and Peter primers in England and a number of books for the Folio Society. She died in 2009. Her obituary was published in The Guardian.

+ Omnibus Home Page + The City That Died to Live + Man Overboard! +
+ Pigs is Pigs + Annie Oakley and the Wild West + The Night My Number Came Up + I Killed "Moby Dick" +
+ Hector, the Stowaway Dog + The Day I Met Midnight + Hunter + History and Horrors in Wax +

+ If you want to comment about The Princess Who Wanted the Moon, please write to omnibus@chebucto.ca
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+ A labour of love by Jane Kansas, last updated on July 9, 2011.