Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (Guardians of Childhood, book 1)
By William Joyce and Laura Geringer
Published 2011 by Atheneum

I picked this up recently because I received an ARC of the second book at Midwinter. However, after finishing this one, I discovered that my ARC was actually only a sampler. Color me disappointed. Anyway, onto the review.

This is the story of Santa - before he was Santa. He was just Nicholas St. North and he battled the Nightmare King. This is the first chapter book in a new series that Joyce launched in preparation for an animated feature film to be released in 2013. The premise of the series is that there exist Guardians of Childhood - Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Man in the Moon, etc. - who guard Earth's children from the Nightmare King and his evil minions. They were making a huge deal about this at ALA Annual last summer, but then the first two books were released (a picture book came out prior to this chapter book) without much fanfare. I was very intrigued by the story this series is going to tell and I liked the picture book, but this entry fell short for me. I had hoped to be swept away - I think Joyce is one of the most imaginative people workings in children's media today. Instead, I felt bored. This is a pretty short book, but even then, it was difficult for me to keep my interest in it. The Santa connection is really not apparent at all, so I think that will be lost on children. I didn't feel as if the characters were tremendously well-developed. I fear that this whole project is perhaps a little too ambitious. I'll be interested to see how the rest of it fares, including the film.

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