Thursday, January 3, 2013


Because I was enchanted by the artistry of the theater advertisements, and because my 22-year-old Vanessa wanted to see it, I took a chance yesterday and saw RISE OF THE GUARDIANS.  I never saw a compelling advertisement, never really got what the movie was about, beyond Santa, Jack Frost, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman.

To my absolutely delight, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS turned out to be a brilliant, beautiful story full of passion and heart and true imagination, thanks to William Joyce, one of my all-time favorite picture book authors (left).

Driven in large part by the invisible Jack Frost's quest for his identity and purpose, the story begins as Jack is called by the Man in the Moon to be a new Guardian.  The Boogie Man, known as Pitch is souring the dreams of children and threatening to do worse. All the talents of all the Guardians will be required to stop him.

Jack has heard of the others, of course, known to each other as North, Tooth, Bunny and Sandy.  People believe in them, and they can be seen because of it.  But the boy, once frozen in an icy pond, is invisible, even to the kids delighted by his wintery skills.  What good can he do?  Why was he chosen?

North challenges Jack to find his core, the one thing that defines who he really is.  North admits his core and purpose is wonder, and says he inspires wonder within children around the world.  Tooth is loving guardian to childhood memories.  Bunny is the champion of hope.  And Sandy, of course, helps kids to dream. 
Jack agrees to battle Pitch, even if he doubts his own worth.  Together, they offer us a story as gripping as any theatrical film I've seen this year in a visual feast second to none.  I loved Pixar's BRAVE and Disney's WRECK IT RALPH, but this film produced by Dreamworks was far better -- just as Dreamworks HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON was the best animated film of 2010.

As a children's writer, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS reminded me that each of us who write for kids are guardians too -- people who remind kids of the wonders of the world through the stories we tell.  And more than once, the movie had me in tears, proud of doing what little I can to be a worthy ally to the characters in the film.

Life can be hard, for kids and adults.  Our fears, like Pitch, threaten to silence those things in life that make us feel rich.  Those things are more valuable than money or anything it can buy.  Those things define who we are and who we want to be.  RISE OF THE GUARDIANS reminded me of those core gems each of us should nurture.  I'm grateful for that -- and for William Joyce.

I interviewed William many years ago by telephone, and hung up wishing I could be his friend.  Now I feel that way, all over again.  Thank you, for creating something with a magical core to enrich us.