New chapter book series introduces Guardians of Childhood before they were famous

November 15, 2011 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians of Childhood, Book 1) by William Joyce and Laura Geringer, illustrated by William Joyce; published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York; 2011.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  The book was published in October, 2011.

Before he was Santa Claus, Nicholas St. North was a rebellious soldier of fortune.  He sought his fortune wherever there was a good fight and a healthy reward.  One fateful event changed the course of his life forever.  A battle raged near the village of Santoff Claussen, where the wise old wizard Ombric fought against evil to protect the villagers, especially the children.  The master of all the evil was none other than the Nightmare King, who hides in the shadows and haunts the dreams of children.  St. North’s choice to stay and fight with Ombric will change the course of his life forever.

From the old-fashioned typeface to the illustrations, this book feels like a treasured tale discovered on the bookshelves at a grandparent’s house.  It must be true, then, right?  What a wonderful way to engage readers!  In addition, Joyce’s illustrations seamlessly add to the story without distraction as well as give faces to the fairy tale creatures that play such prominent roles.  I especially liked the use of black-on-white and white-on-black, emphasizing important parts of the story.

The resources available to support this series is outstanding.  The publisher’s website includes a video chat with author William Joyce, an excerpt from the audio book along with a copy of the first chapter, and a download of activities that correspond to the story (find them all here: http://bit.ly/plNmqG).  Amazon.com has a surprisingly rich assortment of resources as well.  They include an exclusive set of trading cards to download, print and cut out; another video chat with William Joyce; and an interview Joyce did with Nicholas St. North (well worth a visit just for this!).  You can find the Amazon.com resources here: http://amzn.to/txcRtv.  The Guardians of Childhood series (both in picture book and chapter book formats) have a dedicated website to explore: http://theguardiansofchildhoodbooks.com/index.php.

Perhaps my biggest thrill reading this book is the impact it can have on families.  Of course, readers in grades 2-6 will devour every page and anticipate the story of the next Guardian of Childhood.  But I think it offers a wonderful opportunity for reading together, whether a teacher reads to a class or caregivers read to children.  I highly recommend this book now so that families can read it together nightly during the holiday season.

Another benefit of this book is its tie-in to the picture book, The Man in the Moon (The Guardians of Childhood), also by Joyce.  I planned to grab it at work last night to read and comment on it together with this title, but a child found it first.  Aha!  The child was a preschooler and her sister was in third grade.  Wouldn’t this have made a terrific reading opportunity for the family!  I did recommend this chapter book to her mom, but it was not yet on our shelves.

So this book, paired with the picture book, would make a wonderful start of a display and pathfinder pairing picture books with chapter books; opportunities for families to read different types of books and discuss the similarities, differences, and which preferences they have.  And absolutely, this book is a must for Christmas pathfinders and recommended reading.

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Entry filed under: Children's Chapter Book. Tags: , , , , , , .

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Disclaimers: Per the FTC regulations, please note that sometimes books are received for review for free by publishers or authors. All books (ARCs, galleys, library or purchased) will be reviewed fairly; no special consideration is given to anything reviewed on this blog. In addition, I make every attempt to avoid spoilers. Sometimes they happen inadvertently or because they are important to defend a review; not all spoilers have been removed or fixed. This disclaimer is a general statement included as a warning to readers.

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