There are many things that I love about being a parent. When my daughter was younger, my husband and I made up all kinds of stories about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. Sharing in her belief of these childhood friends was an unexpected gift. Now she is eleven, and though she appreciates the spirit of Christmas magic, she does not believe it comes in the form of an bunny bearing gifts, a fairy who likes teeth, or a gent wearing a fur trimmed red suit. Sigh. However, I have discovered that her new tween maturity does not preclude her from enjoying stories about her childhood companions. She and I both greatly enjoyed reading and looking at today's picture book, a title created by William Joyce.
For ages 5 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2011, 978-1-4424-3041-9
There are several personalities who are collectively known as the Guardians of Childhood. They include Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Man in the Moon. The Man in the Moon was the very first of the Guardians, and he began his journey during the Golden Age, which was “a glorious time of hope and happiness and dreams that could come true.”
When he was a baby, the Man in the Moon lived with his parents on a ship called the Moon Clipper, and together they sailed from one planet to another with their Moonbot crew, giant Glowworms, Moonmice, and Nighlight, who was the baby’s “devoted little friend.” Every night the Moon Clipper transformed into a moon, and every night Nighlight watched over the baby, making sure that he never had a nightmare.
Then a terrible “darkness came to the Gold Age.” A being called Pitch, the King of Nightmares, could not bear the fact that baby Man in the Moon had never had to endure a nightmare, and he decided that he would kidnap the baby. Though the baby’s parents tried to protect their son by taking him to a distant place near a planet called Earth, Pitch found them and there was a terrible battle.
When the battle was over, the Man in the Moon’s parents had disappeared, the ship had been destroyed, and all that was left was a moon. Nightlight had vanquished Pitch, and they were both gone. Poor little Man in the Moon was all alone except for the Moonbots, the Moonmice, and the Glowworms.
When he was old enough to read his mother’s Primer of Planets, the Man in the Moon discovered that there were children on Earth, children who had hopes and dreams. As a grown up, the Man in the Moon set about trying to make these children as happy as he could, but there was one problem that he did not know how to solve.
With stunningly beautiful illustrations and a magical story that will charm children and their grownups, this picture book is a title that children will treasure for years to come. It is the first of what promises to be a memorable series of picture books.