Does this not rather speak for itself?
Scorecard: (Out of 10)
* Quality of Writing - 10
* Pace - 9
* Plot development - 9
* Characters - 9
* Enjoyability - 10
* Insightfulness - 10
* Ease of Reading - 10
* Photos/Illustrations - 10 (wish it could be higher!)
Final Score: 77/80 = 96%
As stated in my Nicholas St. North review, I had no knowledge of this series until the movie was being advertised and only watched the DVD a month and some ago. I immediately fell in love with what the author was trying to do and sought out the books to see what he’d already done with these retellings and revitalizations of familiar figures of our childhood. What I found in the Santa Claus chapter book impressed me and when I had the chance to check out the picture books, I did. I am soooo thankful I did as these might be some of the best picture books I’ve seen in years.
In the movie, Man in Moon (MiM) as North calls him, is an enigma; a shadowy figure who they know much about but the viewer ignorant of the books knows little about. So I was very excited to pierce the shadow, so to speak, surrounding this seemingly important character.
*NOTE* I found it intriguing that in the first illustrated page of the first book that came out, Jack Frost is prominently shown even though he’s first appearance is as far as I know in the movie that came out after this. Planning in advance, nice.
The story itself is presented simply but there is much to be learned. We learn about his happy early childhood with his parents and his friend Nightlight as they fly across the galaxy in their Moon Clipper which turns into a moon at rest. Nightlight guarded MIM’s dreams, keeping him safe from nightmares – the first Guardian. However Pitch, the King of Nightmares is after them and manages to be stopped only at great cost, leaving MiM alone but for the Moonbots, Glow Worms, and Moonmice. The rest of the story chronicles how he grows up and comes to care for the green and blue planet below him and its people.
I can’t decide which characteristic of the book is better, the writing or the illustrations. I’m leaning towards the latter as they are some of the most expressive and detailed pictures I’ve seen in a while. They have a richness and depth that recent treads in picture books have moved away from and I have to say I have missed. I love simplicity but these tales need that age and richness the artwork bestows. His choice to have pictures with Pitch in black and white (they look like charcoal) while most of the others are brightly colored paintings or if sketches more bluish or other colors is interesting. The only time this does not hold true is one small sketch with children on Earth. It is not until a major plot point when Earth brightens. The illustrations alone could tell the tale.
Yet the text is gorgeous. Simple enough that an older child would have no problem reading It nor young children listening to it but it has a beauty in how it’s written. There are scary times but they are acknowledged and then the fear’s power is lessened. There are plenty of happy times however with MiM growing up with the Glow Worms, Moonbots, etc. and his connection to the children below.
Don’t spoil it if I learn about it later but I was intrigued to find Mother Goose in the picture with the other Guardians. I was raised on nearly all her nursery rhymes, even the ones most people have never heard. So she was a ‘guardian’ I was very close to as a child.
How MiM ultimately helps the children of Earth was awesome and gives a new meaning to the full moon. With all the Guardians to help him, the children can be protected and comforted from the dark.
Where was this when I was young?
A lovely story that not only revitalizes myths and personifications of ideas, etc. from childhood, but gives children the idea that the creepy crawlies that infect the darkness have enemies and they bring light that keep the nightmares and fearlings at bay. The perfect bedtime story.