Wednesday, November 26

The Guardians

A break in the schedule: no storytime post today due to the holiday. But here's a four-in-one, kids-level book review!

October 4, 2011
February 21, 2012
October 2, 2012
November 5, 2013

The Guardians
William Joyce

My rating: ★★★★★

Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Age: Grades 2 - 6
Genre: Fantasy

Themes: legend origins, believing, magic, good vs. evil,

After the battle with Pitch that ended of the Golden Age, only the Man in the Moon remains. He watches over the kids on Earth, and protects them. But when Pitch, the Nightmare King, rises again, MiM knows he must find fellow guardians to protect the children. Through the series, he recruits: the wisest of wizards, Ombric; the swashbuckling thief-turned hero, Nicholas St. North; the bright protector in the dark, Nightlight; the last remaining Pooka, E. Aster Bunnymund; the queen of tooth fairies and collector of memories, Toothiana; and former shooting star captain and dream/wish master, Sanderson ManSnoozy. Together with Katherine, the orphaned child who is often the target of Pitch's fury, they battle Pitch again and again in hopes of finally banishing the nightmare.

While I am reviewing these books as a series, I will break them down a little bit more. But first, my overall impression: I LOVE these books. They are hope and goodness and feel-goods and happiness and all things that bring me joy. They're the ultimate fairy tales with magical beings in a terrifying battle against true darkness and evil. I LOVE it. But that is also my biased sentiment; I love a good fairy tale and prefer fantasy. It's definitely my style of book: all that is good about being a child. In a more professional sense, I would still rate these books high because of the imagination, thorough development, and careful structure put into these stories. It seems as if Joyce has prepared for everything and left no loose ends. They're brilliant.

In Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King, Pitch is first loosed on the world and we are introduced to Ombric, Nicholas, and Nightlight. Katherine, an orphaned girl living with Ombric in Santoff Claussen, attaches herself to the guardians, developing into a stronger, braver character. She finds and adopts her giant Snow Goose and records the stories of their adventures (*coughMotherGoosecough*). Since everything is so new, there are still some shallow, just-believe-it moments. It could serve as a perfectly fun standalone story, but it still had me grabbing for the next one, just knowing it was available...

In E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core, Pitch has built a sanctuary for himself in the center of the earth, kidnapping the kids in Katherine's village in attempts to draw in and trap the guardians there. Who better to help than the oldest & wisest creature on Earth? Who also happens to be a tunneling master? Bunnymund is a fascinating character, because he is totally unlike any others in the books—very formal, but can succumb to craziness. It's fascinating.

Then, Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairies, makes the series even more complex. Toothiana's origin is very...fraught with heartache. A lot more emphasis is placed important elements of humanity: kindness, forgiveness, and the like. In the final battle of this book, the gaurdians are set to kill Pitch once and for all, but it is Katherine who remembers the importance of mercy. So, compared to the other books, this one was very heavy. Still, it added amazing depth to these tales.

Finally, Sandman and the War of Dreams, it which Katherine is subjected to torturous nightmares that only the love of Nightlight can disperse. It's a tad darker—which makes sense, because ever since the beginning, Pitch has been getting stronger and more cunning. It also gives more history, specifically Pitch's history, which brings SO much depth to what could be just an evil villain. I'm telling you guys, Joyce knows what he's doing.

And the title-less book 5, due perhaps as late as 2016, is eagerly awaited. But I wouldn't let that stop me from reading all of these books. Heck, ALL of Joyce's books! The man is a genius, celebrating all that is good about childhood. He gives depth and origins to the fantasies of Santa, Easter Bunny, and Tooth Fairy in a fascinating, skillful way. And I am a fan. Go. Go and read.

Or see the movie, that's pretty good, too.

Find the books at your library or on Amazon

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