Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Man in the Moon

Sometimes, just like in Diane Duane’s So You Want to be a Wizard, a book jumps from the shelf and snags you. What recently snagged me, like a nibble on my finger: The Man in the Moon by William Joyce.

With magically dazzling and opulent illustrations, the story is engaging (satisfying even for grown-ups). It begins in a sort of Space Exploration Golden Age, when all was right with the world and grand ships traversed the galaxy. Not to give too much away, the Man in the Moon cares deeply for earth’s children and works to make the world better for them, even in the face of great darkness.

The Man in the Moon
marked the first of an entire Guardians series Joyce had been working on for 25 years. The stories he told his children sparked into flame, becoming an intricate, consuming world. And so Joyce wrote and illustrated a combination of picture books and chapter books to tell the stories of the Guardians of Childhood.

I was so excited about the book that I recommended it to my cousins, who looked at each other with squiggly eyebrows and asked, “Doesn’t that sound like the movie we watched? Rise of the Guardians?”

And it did.

So the next day at the library, I checked the “R” section of the Children’s DVDs. Sure enough, the front cover of the DVD case depicted the characters introduced at the end of Joyce’s book, The Man in the Moon. I watched it as soon as I got home.

I was soon a little disoriented, however, because (*Spoiler Alert!*) the nightmare-causing villain, Pitch Black was sort-of vanquished in the book, I thought… so why has he returned? (*End Spoiler.)

I was worried that perhaps the author had been cast aside in favor of the show-biz bureaucracy, but it seems he was an executive producer (along with Guillarmo del Toro) and Joyce’s Guardian books (including Man in the Moon) were given credit.

The movie was even dedicated to Mary Katherine Joyce, his daughter, who died at the brink of adulthood of a brain tumor. The Guardians books are based on the stories he told her throughout her childhood.

Even without the heart-rendering personal narrative behind the books, I was hooked the moment The Man in the Moon touched my finger. I’ve since read the picture book The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie (which was beautiful but less substantive than The Man in the Moon) and have scribbled the other Guardians of Childhood books on my summer must-read list.

I shall leave you with Jack from the film’s parting wisdom: “So when the moon tells you something, believe it.” Even if the moon is a snagging book. Or a nagging voice in your mind.*

*I suppose if you’re more cynical, you’ll say this is nonsense. But even if that were true, at least nonsense provokes, stimulates, inspires. It’s the Unknown, and it can be filled with adventures.

(Hello, friends, and how the time has flown. The past month brought transformation and transition. In a way, I suppose I was off gathering inspiration, gaining experience, soaking in the world, and settling back into my bones. What a lovely summer it is!)

1 comment:

Brian Miller said...

oh we thoroughly enjoyed guardians...i did not know it was based on the joyce cool....i need to see if i can get my hands on a copy of the book....