Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

William Joyce and Laura Geringer, illus. by Joyce. S&S/Atheneum, $14.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4424-3048-8
Launching the Guardians series, a chapter book counterpart to Joyce's Guardians of Childhood picture book series, this beguiling clash of good vs. evil brings together several legendary figures, updated by Joyce. Key players include Ombric, a wizard who teaches the children of the village of Santoff Claussen how to make anything they imagine come true; Nicholas St. North, a reformed bandit who becomes Ombric's apprentice; Nightlight, a "spectral boy" who is guardian to Tsar Lunar, ruler of the moon; and Katherine, a brave foundling whose dream foreshadows what North will become: "a powerful figure of unending mirth, mystery, and magic, who lived in a city surrounded by snow." All join forces to defeat Pitch, the King of Nightmares (called "Boogeyman" by children), a mission that culminates in a dramatic battle in the Himalayas. With agility and flair, Joyce and Geringer build layer upon layer of fantasy and provide rich background information about the characters, while leaving much to readers' imagination—and much still to be revealed. As in the narrative, shadow and light play enticing roles in Joyce's b&w illustrations. Ages 7–11. Agent: Michael Siegel & Associates. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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