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Book Reviews, Early/Young Readers, Fantasy/Science Fiction, Middle Grade Readers, Mystery/Adventure, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations

NICHOLAS ST NORTH AND THE BATTLE OF THE NIGHTMARE KING by William Joyce

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Just finished Nicholas St North and the Battle of the Nightmare King and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It has the magic storytelling feel of the very first Harry Potter volume.  It is the first book in the Guardian series by William Joyce upon which the animated movie Rise of the Guardians was based.

In this volume we meet Nicholas St. North, king of the Russian Cossack bandits–or at least, that’s who he believes he is.  Through his interactions with the Wizard Ombric and Katherine, the foundling child Ombric has taken in Nicholas discovers the depth of kindness, compassion and love that has always abided in his true heart. Katherine’s gift of a dream about Nicholas as the head of a great city in the snow foreshadow his existence as Santa Claus.

On his journey toward this revelation, Nicholas willingly battles Pitch, the evil King of Nightmares and his Fearling minions to within an inch of his own life when they bring the dark evil of nighttime terrors to Ombric’s enchanted village of Santoff Claussen.

The story is full of magical trees and creatures, the magic of moonbeams and light, joy and kindness, fierce sword battles between good and evil and the purity of children’s courage, love and friendship.  A story full of the kind of magic it’s easy to believe in in our everyday lives, Nicholas St North is a fun, exciting, easy read that lends itself equally to read-aloud and independent reading choices.

This is an easy book to recommend for all ages and environments.

One quick note:  do not expect the book to mirror the movie.  The movie is more a conglomeration of all the books in the series as well as  the consequent script adjustments that are required when translating the written word to the big screen.  The movie Rise of the Guardians, however, is also a great family viewing choice with the same sweetness, humor and adventure of the books.

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