Spotlight: Penn’s Woods Puppet Theater

We have a princess in distress and a problem in need of a solution. Many Moons, written in 1943 by James Thurber for his 11-year-old daughter, was Thurber’s first story for children.

For me, its meaning is the difference between facts and a child’s interpretation of them. The premise is simple. The princess is ill. She’s not getting better. The doctor is baffled. Her father is worried.

When she assures her father that having the moon would cure her, he calls to him each counselor in his turn. These men are the brightest in the realm. Each says it’s impossible; the moon is too big, too far away, made of dangerous substances.

The jester hears the opinions of the wise men and suggests that he ask the princess her belief on its size, distance and composition. She must think it’s possible or she wouldn’t have asked, right?

The jester enters princess’s bedchamber and questions her. She answers that the moon is as large as her thumb, for when she holds it up, it just covers it; the moon is as high as the tree outside her window, for it gets caught in its top branches. She thinks it’s made from a yellow diamond (in our version).

The jester returns the next morning with “the moon” – a yellow diamond that she hangs from her headdress. The princess is well again.

When the moon rises that night, the jester asks, “How can the moon be in the sky when it hangs from your headdress?” She responds, “Easy, silly. When I lose a tooth, another grows in its place. When the gardener cuts the flowers, they grow again. It’s the same with the moon.”

These answers are based on her perceptions, not reality. Since it works for her, the jester goes along with it.

Thurber’s text touts the princess as the wise one, but my vote is for the jester.

Event planners, to book a show call Robin and Susan Tafel at 215-441-4154.

PHOTO CAP: Once upon a time…

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