I love William Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood series. The picture books, the novels, the movie… they’re all a lot of fun. I’m sad that the movie—whichI love William Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood series. The picture books, the novels, the movie… they’re all a lot of fun. I’m sad that the movie—which is really good—didn’t seem to get much attention, and I’m sad that it appears that the next novel looks like it’s the last one. Still, they’re all quick enough reads that I can go back and read them all over again.
This latest novel brings the character of Sanderson Mansnoozie, the Sandman (geddit?) into the fray, after having had his origin told in a picture book. While each book in the series builds from the last, this one is very much an installment in a serialized tale. Following the capture of young Katherine in the previous volume, the Guardians search for their friend. Along the way, we learn more about the evil Pitch, his daughter, Mother Nature, and we see the Guardians begin to set things up for what may be the final battle.
As with previous books in the series, I really enjoy the mythology Joyce is building. It’s an epic adventure featuring Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and Mother Goose, but it neither feels silly nor overly serious. The books have the tone of an oral folktale, one that has been told again and again over generations. And yet, they also feel focused and detailed. While this time around, we don’t get too much insight into most of the characters, we do learn a great deal about Pitch, Sandman, and Nightlight.
Unfortunately, it felt as if this volume had fewer illustrations than previous ones. I really enjoy Joyce’s artwork, so that was a shame. Also, this feels less like a complete installment than setup for what will come next. Having said that, the background information this book provides more than makes up for that. And since I am totally enjoying the series as a whole, I’m okay with installments that expect me to read what came before and what will come next....more
Thanks to the little Senegal parrot living in our house, I've become a big parrot fan. So this story, about Zeno, an African Grey parrot who loses hisThanks to the little Senegal parrot living in our house, I've become a big parrot fan. So this story, about Zeno, an African Grey parrot who loses his owner--not that he'd ever admit to being owned--and Alya, a young girl suffering from leukemia, caught my attention. I didn't expect it to be a happy story, and indeed, I found myself in tears over and over again. But I still loved it.
More than anything else, this is a story of frustration, and Jane Kelley communicates that very well. Zeno, like all African Grey parrots, is highly intelligent, but he isn't a human. His concerns are those of a bird, and while he has a highly developed English vocabulary, he finds himself alternately unable to communicate what he really wants to the humans, or finds humans unable to understand that he is really trying to speak to them, raither than just imitate sounds.
Alya, on the other hand, is frustrated with her declining condition. She can no longer do the things she took for granted, and she feels like she is losing her friends and family as a result. They're still there, but they treat her differently. Kelley effectively shows how both Zeno and Alya perceive this loss of control, and how it upsets their lives.
This isn't a typical kid-animal bonding story, and it lacks a lot of the heartwarming moments you'd expect from that sentimental genre. It's tough and hard-edged, and there are a lot of harrowing sequences. I found myself particularly upset at one character, a woman who takes Zeno home, but is more interested in how he fits into the decor of her house than his well-being as a living, thinking creature. I know that there are far too many people like that out there, who don't understand the responsibilities of bringing an animal into their home. There's too great a perception that because animals don't speak a language that we recognize, they are somehow inferior to humans. As if the ability to smoke and kill each other over religion is an indication of superiority.
Ultimately, this is a tough book for me to pigeonhole (pun intended). It's so well written, and so tugs at the heartstrings, that I recommend it for its sheer quality. But it's also very upsetting through most of it, so definitely not a light distraction. I loved it, but I don't think I need to revisit it again for a while....more
Collecting the first six micro-series issues, each one focusing on one of the "Mane Six" lead characters from the popular TV series and toy line, thisCollecting the first six micro-series issues, each one focusing on one of the "Mane Six" lead characters from the popular TV series and toy line, this was a lot of fun. While all very much in keeping with the tone and style of the show, each story--written and drawn by different creative teams--had its own distinctive voice and feel. Similarly, each character had a story appropriate to their personalities, giving us a range of tales from action-adventure (Rainbow Dash), character drama (Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, and Applejack), and humor (Pinkie Pie and, arguably, Fluttershy). IDW and Hasbro get points from me for allowing so much individual expression to show through a licensed comic, and not forcing creators into a cookie-cutter house style. Lots of fun for folks already familiar with the series....more
While nowhere near as nice as the William Joyce books that inspired the movie (and this comic), it's a fun little prequel that introduces several charWhile nowhere near as nice as the William Joyce books that inspired the movie (and this comic), it's a fun little prequel that introduces several characters from the upcoming movie. The story helped whet my appetite, and the art was nice. A quick diversion, but fun....more
I enjoyed this book enough to finish it, and to want to read the next one, but I can't wholeheartedly embrace it. The pace is uneven, and the characteI enjoyed this book enough to finish it, and to want to read the next one, but I can't wholeheartedly embrace it. The pace is uneven, and the characters aren't particularly well-drawn (ironic, in a story where magic comes from drawing). It also leaves a lot of plot threads dangling, without being clear whether or not a follow-up is intended. So, a qualified recommendation....more
This second Guardians of Childhood picture book (following The Man in the Moon) has the feel of a classic myth or fairy tale, one that has been told aThis second Guardians of Childhood picture book (following The Man in the Moon) has the feel of a classic myth or fairy tale, one that has been told again and again. As with his other Guardians of Childhood picture books and novels, Joyce fuses fantasy, mythology, folklore and science fiction to create a truly interesting tale that feels fresh and original, while simultaneously feeling classic and timeless.
The picture books in this series (as opposed to the novels) necessarily tell simpler, more straightforward tales, giving the background of their main characters. As a comic book fan, they remind me of the origin issues of classic superheroes, telling you who they are and how they came to be, while creating anticipation for future adventures. I look forward to the Sandman's appearances in the other books in the series, as well as the upcoming Rise of the Guardians movie.
Joyce's art, as usual, is deceptively clean and clear on the surface, while closer examination reveals a great deal of detail. The design of the book and art echo the classic tone of the story, with strong art nouveau influences (if I'm getting my art terminology right). I keep using the term "classic," by which I mean it feels timeless. It doesn't feel old-fashioned, nor is it self-consciously trying to be contemporary, in a way that will feel incredibly dated after just a few years.
That this series ties in to an upcoming movie shouldn't put readers off; as I understand it, Joyce came up with the concept of the Guardians of Childhood decades ago, and the movie is adapted from his concept. Interestingly, work on the movie (which Joyce co-wrote and co-directed) influenced this book, as Joyce gives credit for some of the designs to artists working on the movie. Regardless of its origins, the whole Guardians of Childhood project is one that I'm really enjoying, and look forward to future installments in whatever medium they show up in....more