Even though I live with and for books I don't much talk about what I'm reading here. Compared to a friend of mine who reads very critically, I don't think myself up to par in the ability to intelligently critique. I simply know if I like a book. It's pretty simple. If I take the time to finish it, I liked it. Life is short...getting shorter by the day...so I don't spend time reading something I don't enjoy and then certainly I don't talk about it if I didn't like it.
I found this book, written by William Joyce. It's a children's picture book. That's my business, I am employed to read and share books with children. I love it. When I saw the reviews for this soon to be series of the Guardians of Childhood, I was intrigued. I called my local children's bookstore and asked for a copy to be held for me.
It's been a long, long time since any picturebook did to me what this one did. I have my favorites, certainly, and most assuredly favorite authors. But the very idea for this book is what I needed to see.
Mr. Joyce has decided that children need to believe in heroes again and has chosen the guardians of all of our childhoods, to tell their backstory, of their struggles as young people before they became the icons, the guardians, of our childhoods. We will never forget until our dying day Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Sandman, the Man in the Moon, the Tooth Fairy and Mother Goose. No matter what, we will always know what they meant in our lives. Forever and ever.
This first book, The Man in the Moon is stunningly beautiful, imaginative and spellbinding. I know, because I read it to three third grade classes and one fourth grade class this week. Of course I gave it a huge foot stomping introduction but they fell into mesmerized open mouthed awe as I read it.
I stopped at the page with the balloons. The Man in the Moon, as a child, realizes he is not alone after all when he discovers there are children on earth and he knows this because he collects the lost balloons that floated out of their hands when let go. And because a child touched the string, he could listen to their thoughts and dreams and fears through the balloons. This page stopped me in my tracks. Not one child sitting at my feet questioned that. Usually they do, if there is something just too fantastical about a story. I stopped. Stared at the page. Stared at them. "Who knew?" I asked. "How many of us have lost a balloon and watched it travel up, up, up and out of sight? Who knew this was where it went?"
I told the kids I didn't want to put this book on the shelf because that meant I couldn't look at it any time I wanted to. I knew I had to share it with them, I said, but I don't want to let it go.
The series of books on each of the Guardians will include picture books, illustrated chapter books (Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King will be published Oct. 4) and film. I'm a tad disappointed about that because this would make a first class addition to any bookshelf as a set. But when you see the illustrations in this one, you'd understand Mr. Joyce would not live long enough to finish this series. It's stunning.
The Guardians of Childhood - The Man in the Moon by William Joyce. Treat yourself to the wonder of it.