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Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians) Hardcover – October 4, 2011
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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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Since this is a children’s book, I am going to review it as such, which means my standards for what make it great are different – it’s rated on a scale of it’s own.
I have been a huge fan of the movie Rise of the Guardians since it came out in 2012, but I only just found out last month that the movie had originated from a short series of books written by the outstanding William Joyce. Look him up – it’s likely he’s written and/or illustrated something that you recognize, such as Meet The Robinsons or Rolly Polly Olly. Of course, as soon as I found out about the Guardians books, the first one – this one – was in my shopping basket, checked, taxed, and shipped. I didn’t care if it was a children’s book, I needed to read it, and I was not disappointed.
Like I said, I’ll be reviewing children’s books a bit differently, so I’m not going to do a whole Pro/Con thing – I’m just going to tell you about the book:
In the first pages of Nicholas St. North, a moonbeam out fulfilling his duty of protecting children inadvertently releases Pitch, the dreaded Nightmare King. From there, we are introduced to the old wizard Ombric Shalazar, who has created an idyllic home, protected by magic, where curious children and their parents are free to explore and engage their curiosities, invent and learn things, all in the safety of their village of Santoff Claussen. But when the Nightmare King’s cruel fearlings break through the barriers and Pitch threatens to harm the children, Ombric fails to protect them and the task is passed on to Nicholas St. North, the King of Thieves and stranger to Santoff Claussen, guided there by a dream.
This book is simple and straight-to-the-point, as children’s books are, but interwoven with such gorgeous imagery and a lilting narrative that has all the markers of a perfect bedtime story. The characters are human, relatable, with flaws but the desire and effort to become the best versions of themselves as they can possibly be. I especially love Pitch’s backstory, which was sadly absent in the film adaptation – it would have been really cool to see onscreen.
I would, without a doubt, read this book (and the rest of the series, as soon as I can order them) to the kids I babysit. It shows the benefit in being a good person, and the benefit in belief. Oh, and the illustrations are gorgeous and old-fashion, again reminiscent of Andersen.
Check out my full review of this and other novels on my book review blog! bookintroventure(dot)com
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!
First, I'd like to mention how nice the presentation for this book is. It looks beautiful, and it has nice inside art, too. It's one of the better looking books I've seen.
The way it's written makes me think of a person sitting in a chair, telling a story to a bunch of people around them. It took me a little while to get into it. It definitely has its own, unique style.
It's very whimsical and there's a lot of humor in the writing (for example, North, the character, making a compass that points to himself).
It was enjoyable. The characters were likable, and it had a certain feel to its world. It was "Earth" and yet full of magic and everything seemed to have intelligent - whether a beam of light from the moon or an insect.
It had a fairytale like charm, where it could spout out anything as existing in this world and the explanation is "because". It didn't worry about trying to explain the science behind things. For instance, a little girl is tossed high enough to reach the clouds, and lands safely because she's caught. Obviously she's still be a pancake, but this is the sort of story where cows can jump over moons or trees can come to life and it's not questioned.
I did enjoy it and plan on getting the next book sometime.
I also appreciate that while, obviously, this wasn't the end of the series, the book did have its own end. This particular adventure finished instead of stopping a story somewhere in the middle and asking people to buy the next book.
Most recent customer reviews
We own the whole set and love them…what a great twist on Santa.