When I first saw the cover for William Joyce's THE MAN IN THE MOON this past fall, I knew I was looking at something special. Every once in a while, I flip through picture books that catch my eye. Rarely do I bring them home with me. This was one of those exceptions. Every page was like a precious jewel that was all my own. I was convinced that Joyce would receive a Caldecott nomination, and devastated when he didn't. Every page, every illustration, is breath-taking. It amazes me that Joyce spent twenty years carefully creating his THE GUARDIANS OF CHILDHOOD series, which will span from picture books, to middle-grade chapter books such as recently-released titles featuring Nicholas St. North and E.Aster Bunnymund. Joyce previously worked on the Nickelodeon cartoon ROLIE POLIE OLIE and has designed characters for Pixar's TOY STORY, so it's easy to see why he's now co-directing a DreamWorks movie based on the series entitled RISE OF THE GUARDIANS. The trailer just released this weekend and the movie will release at the end of 2012.
I always love stories that feel like fairy tales, and THE MAN IN THE MOON very much fits this bill. It's a lush, sweeping story that tells children about why there's a man in the moon...and how he came to be there. It also showcases the way he befriends the children of the Earth he watches and tries to connect with them. He discovers people who will evolve into well-known figures such as Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Mother Goose, bringing them together into a story that encompasses childhood itself:
"[The Man in the Moon] learned that sometimes the children just needed a toy or a candy or a prize or a sweet dream or a good story to cheer them up.
So [the Man in the Moon] gazed down upon the Earth, scanning mountain-tops so remote, they were hidden in clouds. There he found a grand toy maker to make the children toys, a regal rabbit to make them candy eggs, and a fairy from the kingdom of Punjam Hy Loo to leave prizes under their pillows. He even found a sleepy little fellow on a faraway sandy island who seemed to know all there was to know about dreams. And lastly, [the Man in the Moon] brought the children of Earth a lovely lady who would tell them stories."
(pg. 33? [if I counted correctly...], US Hardcover Edition)
Thumb through THE MAN IN THE MOON to see if it's age-appropriate for your child...or even just to read on your own! It's a book that sits proudly on my shelf, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this imaginative series, as well as seeing THE RISE OF THE GUARDIANS this November!