{Review} THE MAN IN THE MOON by William Joyce

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

"OF COURSE YOU KNOW THE GUARDIANS OF CHILDHOOD. You've known them since before you can remember and you'll know them till your memories are like twilight: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, and the others.  But the very first one was the Man in the Moon.  Many once upon a times ago, the Man in the Moon began his journey.  It was during the Golden Age--a glorious time of hope and happiness and dreams that could come true."  
(pg. 1, US Hardcover Edition)

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)

While THE MAN IN THE MOON may be too complex for the youngest of children, it will appear to ones able to sit still long enough for a captivating story.  The illustrations are gorgeous, though the ones of Pitch, the King of Nightmares, may be terrifying for a young child (see right for example.  Personally, he reminds me of David Bowie as the Goblin King in LABYRINTH!).  The book's images are colorful and bright, with a strong use of ink that doesn't hold back, making each picture easy to stare at for hours on end.  Despite its storytelling quality, the book does use some higher vocabulary (as seen in the above two examples) which, again, may appeal to a slightly-older audience of children.

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!

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The cover captivated me from the moment I first saw it.  Love at First Sight!  I knew I had to read this despite the fact that it was a picture book.  I was never for a second disappointed.

William Joyce's illustrations are as beautiful inside as they are on the cover; you can see all the careful detail and loving attention that went into each one.

I love the way the title is displayed and illustrated.  The moon, while in the background, appropriately encompasses most of the book's cover.  The image of two people riding on a curious looking moth/butterfly creature will make readers pick up the book to see who the people are, and what the creature is.  This cover definitely hints at the fantastic nature of the story lying within!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author/Illustrator: William Joyce
Release Date: Out Now [Sept. 06, 2011]
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
Received: Purchased


Up there in the sky. Don’t you see him? No, not the moon. The Man in the Moon. 
He wasn’t always a man. Nor was he always on the moon. 
He was once a child. Like you. Until a battle, a shooting star, and a lost balloon sent him on a quest. 
Meet the very first guardian of childhood. MiM, the Man in the Moon.


  1. It looks like a really cute book to read aloud to children as a bedtime story. I don't know if I could appreciate it though because its so short (56 pages). I do love the cover though.

  2. @Gina: It's short, yes, but it's actually LONG for a picture book...and there are more words on the page than you'll see in most picture books! It's definitely worth thumbing through at least once!

  3. Great review! What a great book for kids. I have never read a story about a man in the moon. ;)


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