Book in ‘Guardians of Childhood’ series released
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — It’s been decades in the making, but the mission is complete.
Last month, William Joyce — children’s author and illustrator — concluded “The Guardians of Childhood series” with the release of the fifth installation, “Jack Frost: The End Becomes the Beginning.”
The book series transpired from a simple idea.
“It’s been almost 30 years. All I knew is that I wanted the icons of childhood to know each other and work together,” Joyce said.
The fantasy chapter book is recommended for ages 7 to 11 and is available as a hardback for $17.99.
The Guardians of Childhood is a mystical epic of mythological characters fighting darkness to protect childhood dreams.
The storyline manifested after Joyce’s extensive research of fairy tale lore and literature of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and other characters of childhood legend.
In Joyce’s Guardians series, they become Nicholas St. North, E. Aster Bunnymund, Toothiana and Sanderson ManSnoozy. In each book, readers learn how the characters came into existence and about their relationships with each other while following them into harrowing battles as they become heroes.
The final novel focuses on the young, rebellious winter icon Jack Frost, also known as Nightlight.
“I let this marinate for so long and all the fairytale stuff that’s been a part of my thinking for so long just found the right vehicle to express these guys’ stories,” Joyce said. “I knew I would go through each one of the characters and describe their evolution of becoming a Guardian.”
The team’s mission is to protect childhood dreams. The ultimate battle commences with the Guardians taking on the worst of all evils.
“This a big, dangerous job because they have this villain — Pitch, the King of Nightmares — who wants to eradicate them, not just stop them,” Joyce said. “He wants to ruin every good dream that will ever be and send the children of earth into eternal darkness.”
Jack also battles with his own demons as he looks on his past and struggles with his transition from Nightlight to Guardian.
“He wants to be a good guy, but he has so much confusion and doesn’t know how to fit,” Joyce said.
Outside of the books, Jack Frost’s popularity has shown cross-over appeal with readers of all ages. Many fans are teens and adults who have grown up with the chapter book series, which debuted in 2011, and can relate to the character — a disenfranchised teenager, he said.
“It’s touching,” Joyce said. “I get these messages like, ‘It was a really dark time in my teenage years or childhood and these books really got me through. And the hope and the optimism of these fantasies really helped me.’”
The author said he sees himself in many of the characters, too, from Jack to Nicholas St. North to Mother Goose.
“They all have facets of myself in them, to some degree — even Pitch, the bad guy. I’m like, ‘This is me when I’m in a bad mood,’” Joyce said. “He’s had a lot of tragedy in his life and I have too. He’s just dealing with it badly and he has to come to terms with that at the end of the saga. . . . I really feel like I’m just writing about myself almost the whole time.”
... He is concentrating on connecting with fans more through his Instagram and Twitter social media accounts, where he shares illustrations, answers fan questions and posts behind-the-scenes videos.
“It’s an interesting way to interact with people who read my stuff and find new followers,” he said. “People discover me through social media or connect with me.”
He’s even offering a limited-edition illustration to readers who post a photo of themselves at a bookstore dressed as Jack Frost while holding a copy of the new book.
Joyce is an award-winning author and illustrator, creator of the “Rolie Polie Olie” television series and founder of the Academy Award-winning Moonbot Studios, now closed. The Guardians also have appeared in Joyce’s picture books and in Dreamworks’ “Rise of the Guardians” animated feature film, released in 2012.
Although “Jack Frost” is the final offering in the Guardians chapter book series, Joyce teased that fans may see more of their favorite childhood icons.
“I’m not done with these guys. I’m not done with Jack. I’m going to do more with him,” Joyce said. “It’s just this is the way we’re going to wind up this series. This is how many books we’d planned to do. It doesn’t mean I can’t do more — or I may just do a series about Jack.”
Information from: The Times, http://www.shreveporttimes.com