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The Guardians of Childhood, Book 3.5
Finished: Dec. 18, 2012
First Published: Oct. 2, 2012
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genre: picture book, children, fantasy
First sentence: "Of course you know the Guardians of Childhood."
Publisher's Summary: "One foggy night, the Man in the Moon has a startling thought: When the moon is less than full and bright, who will keep children safe at night? He needs a backup plan! Or a backup Guardian, as it were. His keen eye falls upon a sleepy little fellow living on a sleepy little island who is a sweet-dreamer extraordinaire. Since good dreams always trump bad ones, this means Pitch, the Nightmare King, will be further thwarted in his nefarious quest to terrorize children. So Sanderson Mansnoozie seems the perfect choice. But there are two problems. Firstly, given that Sandy has never had a bad dream, how can MiM convince him how important this new role is to the happy-being of children everywhere? And secondly, how can MiM keep this snoozy ally awake long enough to help?"
Acquired: Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.
Well, I feel a bit guilty not giving this book a 5* rating but I must be honest, we were somewhat disappointed. For those not sure how this series works. It is made up of picture books and chapter books which in the long run are related to each other, same characters, but supposedly could be read apart from one another. The picture books are called "The Guardians of Childhood" while the chapter books are called "The Guardians". We are reading all the books in order as they are published and *highly* enjoying this series: the writing, the world-building, the plot and the illustrations. We came to this book, looking forward very much to the picture book format again, expecting to be taken back to the world of "The Man in the Moon" and perhaps a small insight into the continuing storyline as we know the next chapterbook is titled after the Sandman as well.
First, our disappointment came in that this story is very much a stand-alone. Yes, the man in the moon (MiM) is briefly present but this is "Sandy's" story of how he came to be in the "Golden Age", a time far in the past before the events taking place in the chapter books. None of the chapter book characters are mentioned except of course the villain Pitch, neither is any of that plot, nor is the story advanced in anyway. In truth, while the Sandman is an interesting character, his story is rather boring and feels out of place within the context of the overall series. Some sort of continuity for readers of the entire series (picture & chapter) would have been appreciated.
On the other hand, William Joyce is an illustrator extraordinaire. He should be remembered as one of the greats of our time to follow in the footsteps of the likes of N.C. Wyeth and the Hildebrandts. This book is exquisite. Each page is simply beautiful and the story, as it is, is fully realized with the fantastical, otherworldly illustrations which use a dark palette of blues, purples and browns contrasted with the bright glimmering yellow/gold light of the sandman, his sand, his star and the moon. Beautiful, beautiful! Recommended age is 5+ for reading aloud but quite a bit older for individual reading, perhaps 9/10+. Not what we had expected storywise, but nonetheless a gorgeous book.