Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King

The Guardians: Book One

by William Joyce and Laura Geringer

“the air itself grew unnaturally still and for the first time the children felt afraid ” (Joyce, 33).
Chapter Three  — Chapter Four*

After sending the children away (no lessons tonight!) Ombric holes up in Big Root (a massive magical tree that grew out the soil of a meteor crash and is at the center of Santoff Claussen and the source of its magic).

As for the children, they’re usually a difficult bunch to get to bed, so the chapter tells me, but this night they claim to be going to bed early, before sneaking out into the woods. They do so because they know something is up. Ombric doesn’t cancel lessons for no reason.

Furthermore, “they had also spoken to the ants and slugs (slug being a variant of the worm dialect)” and learned that something new and mysterious had penetrated the barriers of Santoff Claussen.

In particular, “the gray-eyed Katherine, the only child who was being raised by Ombric and who actually lived in Big Root” was able to decipher the more difficult ant and slug words.

First, I’ll say upfront I love Katherine a whole bunch.

She’s not only stubborn and brave and empathic, but her key signature as a (spoilers) Guardian, is stories and storytelling through pictures. Just think of it! Protecting children and dreams through stories! That’s so exiting (to me).

Second, yay! to more insect languages.

The children of course want to know what this new unknown factor is. It’s, of course, Pitch’s Fearlings.

I just want to say there was a real sense growing dread and then danger when the Fearlings attack the children. They attempt to fight them and all the animals and trees of the forest join in.

One that amused me were the fireflies – “In numbers too vast to count, they swarmed forth and attacked the shadows like luminous darts released from an invisible bow” (37). That’s not only  great metaphor conveying strength and power, but it reminded me of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog  when the firefly Ray busts up some shadows.

Despite all the help, the shadows simply reform; they cannot be sundered so easily. But then they’ve disrupted by “something that moved too quickly to be seen. It was brighter than fire, and the shadows cowered” – its the spectral boy and his moonbeam friend (remember them?) (38).

And at the same instant, “there was laughter. The bright laughter of mischief” (38). And I had *feelings* which are hard to explain without getting ahead of the plot. Safe to say, the idea of laughter as a release from fear is a very powerful thematic principle to me emotionally, as well as in The Rise of the Guardians.

Once the Fearlings are dispelled, Ombric and children’s parents find them; Ombric decides all the children will stay the night at Big Root where it’s safest.

* there’s no order to how I’m dividing them, except by how much I feel I have to say about each section. I was originally going to divide it up into two parts, twelve chapters each. But I realized those posts would be longer than I like for these book reactions. So I’m getting a feel for each chapter/section as I go.



no words


“‘No!’ cried Katherine. ‘We must stay together.'” (37).

Works Cited:

Joyce, William and Laura Geringer. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King. New York: Atheneum Books, 2011. Print.


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