The Man in the Moon, a picture book, is the first title in the series, which also includes chapter books and an accompanying DreamWorks animated film scheduled for release this fall. It’s the story of MiM, otherwise known as the Man in the Moon. As a baby, MiM sailed through space with his devoted parents in a beautiful airship called the Moon Clipper. At night, the ship would retract its sails and transform into a moon—hence MiM’s nickname, the little Man in the Moon. One day, Pitch, the King of Nightmares, attacks the Moon Clipper and MiM’s parents hide their infant in “a hidden nursery deep in the darkest tunnels of the ship.” There is a terrible battle and when MiM comes out of hiding, his parents and evil Pitch are nowhere to be found. The ship has been damaged—it is now just a moon orbiting a little green and blue planet called Earth. Alone on the Moon Clipper, except for the adorable Moonbots, Moonmice, and Glowworms who tend to him, MiM grows up and studies the children of Earth. By collecting their lost balloons, which often find their way up to the moon, MiM learns about the hopes and dreams of the children on Earth. With this knowledge, he’s motivated to assemble other “guardians” to watch over the young inhabitants of Earth (a Justice League for children, if you will). The tale ends with the Man in the Moon gathering his team and asking them to take an oath: “We will watch over the children of Earth,/ Guide them safely from the ways of harm,/ Keep happy their hearts, brave their souls, and rosy their cheeks.”
With The Man in the Moon, Joyce delivers a stirring fantasy adventure and sets the groundwork for future tales in the Guardian series. In my opinion, it’s best suited for kids ages 5 and older—younger children may have trouble sitting through the text-heavy story and they may find the loss of MiM’s parents disturbing (though I suppose it’s no more disturbing than what happens to parental figures in Disney films). The good news is that older kids who are into chapter books don’t have to miss out on the fun. They can read Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (featuring a heroic, re-imagined Santa Claus before he became Santa Claus). The second chapter book, E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core!, is due out next month.
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Are you familiar with William Joyce’s children’s books? Which is your favorite?