Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians) Hardcover – 13 Sep 2012
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"Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King stole my son! The book came into our house, and the boy disappeared, for hours. Eventually he returned, but it seems that his imagination never came all the way back. A part of him will always remain tangled in the deep, dark, dazzling, insouciant mythology of this latest and most wonderful of William Joyce's worlds."
--Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay"
"The authors do a great job of creating excitement and intrigue, and for those who love to wend their way through extraordinary tales, this novel will not disappoint. The illustrations are wonderful charcoal, graphite, and digital renderings that convey all the magic and fear contained within the story. Fans of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers (Hyperion, 2004) may want to give this book a try."
SLJ, January 2012
"Joyce's detailed illustrations capture the multitude of fantastical settings, weapons, and creatures populating this fast-paced tale."
--"BOOKLIST, "November 1, 2011
"William Joyce's magnificently creative illustrations, rendered in charcoal, graphite, and digital media have an old world feel that extends the text. In the world of fantasy, this book rises above the rest."
--"Library Media Connection, "March/April 2012
About the Author
William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians, Dinosaur Bob, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and look at upcoming work at @HeyBillJoyce on Twitter and Instagram.
Laura Geringer is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children and young adults, including the celebrated A Three Hat Day illustrated by Arnold Lobel; Myth Men, a popular series of graphic novels based on the classic Greek myths; and Sign of the Qin, Book l of the Outlaws of Moonshadow Marsh series, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; and Boom, Boom Go Away illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. She serves on the National Advisory Board of First Book, a charity that has distributed over seventy million books to children in need. Laura lives in New York City.
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There are several other books written by Joyce in the same vein which are also fabulous.
Several weeks later I found myself sitting between my boys watching the exploits of Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and of course St Nicholas - a splendid gun-toting Russian with 'Naughty' and 'Nice' tattooed across his knuckles. The movie, though not without its flaws, is great family entertainment, that sticks to the spirit of its central characters whilst pitting them against a menacing villain. I hope there is a sequel.
When I returned home and discovered the film was based on a series of novels, I became very excited (I don't get out much these days). I assumed that they must be lost American classics; less famous equivalents of Frank L Baum's Oz books. Not so. This first book was first published in 2011, written by William Joyce, a man with many film credits to his name (A Bug's Life, Robots and Toy Story to name but three).
A quick search told me that there were four novels available, and they were all around £10; quite pricey for children's books but they are hardbacks and don't have a UK publisher, so are imports. Still, one review mentioned that the illustrations were gorgeous, so I thought I'd give the first one a punt. I wasn't disappointed.
The strength of the books is in their appearance. Small hardbacks, with pleasing a slipcover, but better still are the black and white drawings inside the book. Book illustration of the highest order. In particular the dastardly Pitch Black and his shadowy Nightmares. They creep across then page with inky menace.
The story is written in a traditional folk story style, reminiscent of Joan Aiken, an author I love. If I had a criticism, it's that the language might be a little advanced for the target age of the story. It is a great book to read aloud, but my seven year-old is very keen to read it himself, only to struggle with some of the more difficult vocabulary. Because the stories are true flights of fancy, some of the events are quite abstract and hard to put into context, which makes it difficult for him decode. Having said that, he is captivated by the book, and determined to read it for himself, which speaks volumes for the quality of the story and the attractiveness of its illustrations.
And there is much to captivate here. Wizards, sentient trees, magic sleighs, moonbeams, robots, spells and a hint of Santa. Mix this with some tenacious child heroes, a Yeti army, ghoulish nightmares and some entirely cool swords, and you have a humdinger of children's story. It's a little light in places but strong on magic, and as for how Santa became Santa, well that's not quite addressed, leaving plenty of scope for more stories. Other books follow, introducing the Easter Bunny,Tooth Fairy and The Sandman. Books I shall be picking up soon.