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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians) Hardcover – October 4, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 99 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

William Joyce Interviews Nicholas St. North

Before he was Santa, Nicholas St. North led an exciting life full of daring adventures. William Joyce interviews the future Mr. Claus about his past, the other Guardians, and what he thinks of the cast of colorful characters that live at the North Pole.

William Joyce: When you were younger, where did you think you'd end up?

Nicholas St. North: Well, they didn't have Las Vegas when I was a kid. Or Disney World, so those just weren't an option. I'm kidding. KIDDING. But the North Pole? Never saw myself there.

Joyce: How do you think you came across in my telling of your story?

Nick St. North: Much better than I expected, to be honest, and since I'm Santa Claus I am, you know, I'm always honest. Your portrayal of me is you know, balanced. You got the good me and the ... wild me. I'm certainly jolly and you caught that. And the temper thing ... you didn't shy away from that. And the bravery and the fun. The fun me. I liked that. Because I'm, you know, fun. FUN! A fun guy.

Joyce: Could you tell us a little about the Guardians of Childhood?

Nick St. North: Great group. The best. Really. So glad to be a member. Sandman, Man in the Moon, Tooth Fairy, the Egg guy, that Frost kid ... just terrific. We all have our own thing, but we work together very, very well. Fighting the Boogeyman, Pitch is his real name. Not many people know that. But, yeah, I think we do a lotta good work together.

Joyce: Which Guardian would you choose to stand beside you in the thick of battle?

Nick St. North: Oh ... now. That's, that's, you know ... They are all, ALL great in their own way. All so talented. Geniuses! I mean it! Even, you know, the egg guy.

Joyce:What do you think makes you such a great Guardian?

Nick St. North: Oh, that's ... No ... I can't ... you're so kind ... Look, I just try to be the best Santa I can be. Firm. Friendly, but fair. That's sort of the motto.

Joyce: If you had a chance to change one thing in your past, would you? What would it be?

Nick St. North: You know, I ... Can we just not go there?

Joyce: If you could learn one bug or animal language, what would it be?

Nick St. North: Gosh. I know almost all of them. That's how I get a lot of my info on the naughty or nice thing. Pets are usually very reliable for that. I speak fluent hamster, which is good, because hamsters, they know EVERYTHING. I even speak leech. Which isn't much help really. There are some Irish accents I have trouble with. I love how they sound, but I need subtitles if it's a movie. And the Jersey Shore kids. Can't understand a word.

Joyce: How are the elves to work with?

Nick St. North: Well, we are all old, old friends. We've known each other since day one. But, honestly, I wish they were a little taller.

Joyce: Taller, you say?

Nick St. North: Yes. They get stepped on A LOT. Especially by the Yeti. It gets messy.

Joyce: Yeti? You mean Abominable Snowmen?

Nick St. North: "Abominable" is not the preferred designation. As native Himalayans, they prefer "Yeti" or Abominable Snowperson.

Joyce: So you have Abominable Snowpersons working at the North Pole?

Nick St. North: Oh yes! They actually do most of the toy development and construction. Which I am still, like, amazed by. I mean their fingers are huge, HUGE. Big as bean bag chairs. But they can do detail work! All the little stuff--eyes on dolls, you name it. They're also awesome warriors, super tidy and excellent at baking. Their cookies? Outta control and Low Cal.

Joyce: What about the elves? They don’t do toys?

Nick St. North: No, no, no, no. That's a huge misconception. The elves just play with the toys as sort of market testing ... to see if they're, you know, fun. Otherwise they're just sort of custodial ... sweeping, mopping. Oh! And they do party decorations and caroling. 20,000 elves singing 'Oh, Christmas Tree'? I get teary just talking about it.

Joyce: What do you think would have happened to you if you weren't chosen to be a Guardian?

Nick St. North: Definitely not retail or politics. They're too, too, I don't know ... pushy. I've always liked gardening. Landscape architect? Or social work? Or maybe directing. Features only. No TV.

Joyce: How would you most like to be remembered?

Nick St. North: Probably the whole Christmas Day thing. And my work with reindeer. Proud of that. And the kids. Yeah. My work with the kids, that's the biggie.


"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


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 6
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Guardians (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442430486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442430488
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My eight year old son and five year old daughter absolutely loved this book. They said the details in the story allowed them to have a vivid understanding of what was happening in the story and really evision the scenes. Once we started, they didn't want to stop. It created for several late night reads (past bedtime) as they just couldn't stop reading because they wanted to know what happened next. Excellent book.
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Format: Hardcover
This enchanting tale glitters with the magic of the far north. An ancient evil has been unleashed on the unsuspecting village of Santoff Claussen: the evil Nightmare King and his army of Fearlings have come to steal the dreams of innocent children and replace them with terrors of the night. It's up to the learned wizard Ombric, his young protégé Katherine, and the swashbuckling theif-turned-hero Nicholas St. North (who will one day be known as Santa Claus) to save the day.

The story unfolds in a world of magic and wonder, but as fantasy worlds go it's a surprising and unusual one. There are aspects that are recognizable as our own world: the village of Santoff Claussen is set in old Russia, a battle takes place in the Himalayas, and the characters are familiar with Leonardo da Vinci. At the same time, it's a fairy tale world, full of wizards from Atlantis, protective moonbeams, fighting fireflies, and benevolent bears. The fairy tale world blends with science fiction when space travel and talking robots arrive on the scene. Not to mention the fact that Santa Claus and the Man in the Moon make an appearance. It's an engaging and interesting world, but an odd mix of genres.

The tale is filled with action and adventure, and good triumphs over evil. Themes of friendship, imagination, and facing one's fear are strong in the book. While at times the plot and setting seem a bit forced, it's overall an enjoyable read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Read from December 09 to 12, 2012

I picked this up after watching Rise of the Guardians, obviously (great movie, by the way). The story was so heartwarming and I fell in love with the characters, so when I heard mention of the novels, I had to check them out. I didn't plan to read them at first, but when I read the first chapter, I was hooked on the writing.

The novel is written in storybook style. Meaning, it's all tell and very little show. Dialogue is scarce. But this is a children's book, and there's nothing wrong with this format. In fact, I very much enjoyed it. I thought it carried some words and phrases a bit too complicated for younger children to get (five year olds, for instance, would probably constantly ask questions) but I really enjoyed the read. It was a nice length too. I finished it in two nights, and it didn't feel too long or too short. I think it's great for people of all ages, and especially an amazing holiday read. It's something I would revisit and I know I'd enjoy reading the other books. I haven't decided yet if I will, but I'd like to eventually.

While this novel is supposed to focus on St. Nick, it also focuses on many other characters, which was great fun. The battle with Pitch was tricky and intense. I also loved the presence of the "spectral boy," which, if I'm right, is another version of Jack Frost, but I'm still not completely confident of that. His powers seem to revolve more around light than snow. Who knows? It's still very entertaining. I hold a lot of regard for the author for his work with children's stories. This was a great debut. I'm definitely rooting to see all six books completed!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Helping a legend like William Joyce bring his vision to life is a dream come true ... The Guardians of Childhood will delight the imaginations of children and their parents for generations to come." --Jon Anderson, Publisher

This fantasy novel for younger readers is a wonderful escapade into C. S. Lewis's credible magical world, that revived in my memory "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". This admirable continuation of the story initiated in "The Man in the Moon" invites William Joyce to join the Legendary troubadours Hans Christian Andersen, Peter Pan's Barrie, and Harry Potter's Rowling, the most friendly story tellers children and their parents have ever got. The Guardians of Childhood series tells the formative stories of childhood legends including Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.

Talented author and artist William Joyce reveals the story behind childhood icons as Santa in Nicholas St. North, following 'The Man in the Moon', in his new series Guardians of Childhood. Set out to invade the dreams of magical Earth's children, an evil nightmare Lord Pitch, escapes his ancient bonds. Old wizard Ombric stands in his way. His former apprentice Nicholas St. North, their mechanical djinni and the girl Katherine, join in building the dramatic events, along side with a gang of Himalayan lamas, fighting trees, domesticated bears, and armed Yetis, in a milieu of Russian folklore. The story is narrated in good English, marked by virtues and fancy, in an delightful setting.

The first chapter book, presented to 'young rascal' Jack Joyce and his sister Mary is co-authored by their dad, William Joyce and Laura Geringer, and beautifully illustrated by Joyce: "North knew exactly what his first experiment would be.
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