Rise of the Guardians (PG) premieres on November 21, just in time to kick off the holiday movie-going season. A sword-wielding Santa, a rough-and-tumble egg-bringing bunny, a multi-tasking tooth fairy—these and other familiar folk personages come to the fore in a new 3-D computer-animated adventure from DreamWorks Animation.
The film was inspired by William Joyce’s “Guardians of Childhood” (S &S/Atheneum) book series, and both endeavors were developed simultaneously. In fact, Joyce, whose many media credits include the TV series Rolie Polie Olie and George Shrinks, the big screen’s Meet the Robinsons (2007), and the Academy Award-winning animated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011), has been involved from the get-go and serves as executive producer.
The Guardians, a group of immortals, have been protecting the dreams, wishes, and imaginations of children across the globe for years. When an evil spirit known as Pitch (voiced by Jude Law) launches a nightmare of a plot to take over the world, these legendary personages must band together to save the day. Led by North (Alec Baldwin), a jolly Santa souped-up with warrior skills, the assemblage includes Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman), a boomerang-bearing, ready-for-action Aussie; Tooth (Isla Fisher), a shimmering half-hummingbird, half-human fairy; and Sandman, silent but powerful safe-keeper of dreams. However, everything just might depend on their latest recruit, eternal teenager and mischief-maker Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a loner plagued by the mysteries of his past who would rather use his weather-controlling staff for pranks than for heroics. Will Jack find his footing in time to help the Guardians defeat Pitch before it’s too late and children stop believing?
Kids can visit the film’s colorfully designed website to watch a trailer, meet the players, and access downloads of movie posters and other images. Online games include an “Elf-Ding-A-Long” (users can echo familiar tunes on various instruments or compose and record their own compositions), a pinball challenge, and a memory game. Also available are activity sheets (connect-the-dots, coloring pages, mazes, etc.) and 3-D sculptures of the main characters that can be printed out, cut, folded, and glued.
A line-up of books featuring handsome film-image covers is available from Simon Spotlight. In The Story of Jack Frost, the protagonist recounts events in a chatty first-person narrative, describing his remarkable ability to instantly create ice and snow with his magical staff, his struggle to understand his own identity, and his role as the newest Guardian. Combining double-page spreads with smaller-size illustrations, the artwork depicts the movie characters and their actions with soft-edges and muted colors. Another picture book, Made in the North Pole (both S & S, 2012; PreS-Gr 2) describes North’s magical domain where furry Yetis construct toys and red-hat-wearing elves wreak havoc. Movie images are neatly arranged against crisp blue snowflake-filled backdrops to illustrate the clearly written text.
Focusing on one of the film’s human characters, Jamie to the Rescue (S & S, 2012; K-Gr 2), a “Ready-to-Read” (Level Two) easy reader, recaps the events from the young boy’s point of view. The book traces Jamie’s interactions with the magical bunch, describing how despite the Guardians’ best efforts, in the end, it’s up to the youngster and his friends to keep the faith and continue to believe. Children familiar with the movie plot will easily follow the storyline and enthusiastically decode the text. Simple sentences, basic vocabulary, and illustrations filled with motion and visual clues encourage and support the efforts of new readers.
With a bright-hued movie-poster cover showing the action-ready Guardians posed superhero-style, the Movie Novelization (S & S, 2012; Gr 3-5) will draw in independent readers as well as a younger read-aloud crowd. Sprinkled with lively dialogue and lighthearted humor, the fast-reading text combines short sentences, clearly described events, and touches of suspense to retell the plot. Each chapter begins with a black-and-white sketch of one of the immortal characters, and eight pages of captioned full-color movie photos encourage youngsters to revisit the highpoints. An unabridged audio-book version is also available.
“Guardians of Childhood” Book Series
Film fans will be delighted to discover Joyce’s book series, while bibliophiles will make a beeline to the library to check out and re-read each installment. Set 200 years before the events depicted in Rise of the Guardians, the titles enhance and expand upon the film’s fantastical universe by introducing the characters and establishing the mythology of their world.
A lushly illustrated offering tells the story of The Man in the Moon (2011) aka MiM, the very first Guardian of Childhood who started life as a baby sailing throughout the heavens with his loving parents on their intergalactic vessel, the Moon Clipper. When the evil Pitch attempts to capture him, a battle ensues, and MiM is left orphaned on his ship, which has been transformed into a moon. He grows into adulthood, cared for by Moonbots, Moonmice, and giant Glowworms, all the while observing and listening to the children of planet Earth far below. Determined to ease their fears, he illuminates the moon to provide comfort and assembles the now-legendary Guardians, who vow to keep the youngsters safe and “guard…their hopes and dreams.”
Sanderson Mansnoozie, more popularly known as The Sandman (2012, both Atheneum; K-Gr 4), makes his debut in a second picture book. The one-time pilot of a shooting star harpooned by the dastardly Pitch, Sandy falls to Earth and lands upon an island made from the remnants of his vessel. Nestled comfortably among golden dunes, he is content to dream away the years, until MiM calls upon him to help keep the children safe at night when the moon’s not full or bright and darkness prevails. What better way to chase nightmares away than by sending lovely dreams via Dreamsand? Both tales are told with a compelling mix of concrete details and a buoyant sense of wonder. The delightful multi-media illustrations combine the precise lines and shading of an antique map with rich gem-stone colors, fantastical settings, and whimsical details. Children will enjoy comparing these images to the movie’s animation, identifying similarities and differences, and allowing their imaginations to soar.
Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (2011) stars a younger version of North, a dashing bandit and much-feared warrior who cannot deny his hidden-away heart of gold. Drawn to Santoff Claussen by a dream, North discovers a town under siege by Pitch, recently released from imprisonment, and joins forces with a powerful wizard named Ombric and a stouthearted story-loving girl named Katherine to defeat the Nightmare King and his Fearling Army. The epic good-versus-evil conflict continues in E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! (2012; both Gr 3-6) as a giant-size, super-intelligent Rabbit Man with a knack for making chocolate treats and fighting bad guys joins the fray.
Filled with magical wonders, once-upon-a-time lore, and richly imagined characters, the novels blend intricately woven plot elements with thrilling action. Elegantly depicting the individuals and the events, Joyce’s mixed-media illustrations emphasize the magic and underscore the emotion. In addition to captivating independent readers, the books make great choices for sharing aloud with younger children. The adventure continues with the recently released Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies (2012; all Atheneum). The first three volumes are available as a boxed set, and more novel and picture book installments are to come in the planned 13-book series.
Readers can visit the series website to find out more about the books and the characters and view a selection of entertaining videos (including one starring Joyce, who takes off on a book tour—literally—by donning a jetpack heading for the moon).
MCDOOGLE, Farrah, adapt. Rise of the Guardians: The Story of Jack Frost. illus. by Larry Navarro. pap. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5305-0; ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5306-7.
SHAW, Natalie, adapt. Rise of the Guardians: Made in the North Pole. pap. $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5290-9; ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5449-1.
GALLO, Tina, adapt. Rise of the Guardians: Jamie to the Rescue. illus. by Zack Franzen & Charles Grosvener. Tr $15.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5260-2; pap. $3.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5259-6; ebook $5.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5262-6.
DEUTSCH, Stacia, adapt. Rise of the Guardians: Movie Novelization. pap. $6.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3075-4; ebook $5.99. ISBN 9781442452541; Audio Bk (2 Compact Disks) $9.99. ISBN 9781442359505
ea vol: S&S. 2012.
JOYCE, William. The Man in the Moon. illus. by author. 2011. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3041-9; ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3551-3.
_____. The Sandman. illus. by author. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3042-6; ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5448-4.
JOYCE, William & Laura Geringer. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King. Bk. 1. illus. by William Joyce. 2011. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3048-8; ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3575-9.
JOYCE, William. E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! Bk. 2. 2012. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3050-1; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-4991-6.
_____. Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies. Bk. 3. 2012. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-3052-5; ebook $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5461-3.
_____. The Guardians. Boxed set (Bks. 1-3). Tr $44.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-7425-3.
ea vol: illus. by William Joyce. (The Guardians Series). S & S/Athenuem.
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