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compassion, Early/Young Readers, Fantasy, Friendship, Magical Realism, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations

JACK FROST: THE END BECOMES THE BEGINNING by William Joyce (The Guardians #5)

I hardly have words for how much I love this book (and The Guardians series)! I don’t want to go into too much detail about the plot, because Jack Frost is the final (5th) book in the series and I don’t want to accidentally give away plot points from books earlier in the series. I highly recommend reading the entire series in order and Jack Frost is a fitting finale! William Joyce’s gift for imaginative storytelling and the way in which he holds childhood as something sacred and to be eternally treasured are unmatched.

If the illustration on the cover looks familiar, you may remember the Dreamworks animated movie of 2012 Rise of the Guardians, which is based on William Joyce’s The Guardians series. One of the things I love about this book is that, although it does contain the origin story of Jack Frost like the 2012 movie, it is NOT in any way a rehash of the movie, itself. From a story perspective both the movie and the book Jack Frost fit together in the history of The Guardians. It is one of the rare exceptions where a movie based on the literary characters perfectly complements and ADDS to the effectiveness and enjoyment of the story.

One of my favorite aspects of the Jack Frost story is the introduction of the country Raconteuristan, peopled by Raconturks, the leaders of whom are chosen “by the beauty, wit, and power of the stories they told.” Their only rule is that fiction can never “be used to hurt any real person, and most important, anyone who was overtly cruel or mean would be banished.” I find the Raconturks’ use of language to be one of the most delightful things about which I have ever read:

Most impressively, they had also contrived a method of using invented words that, when spoken at the proper volume and inflection, could completely incapacitate any foe. These words were called “onomatopoeia” and they were most impressive in sound and effect. Fwapp! Kapow! Shhing! Splat! Ka-ping! Ka-thunk! Crack-a-twang! Kerr-BLOOM! Ker-SPLAT! KER-BLAM! KER-FWANG!

All the books in The Guardians series emphasize the simple motivation to uphold the values of love, kindness, compassion and friendship, as the pillars of peaceful and loving existence in this world. The villain in the story, Pitch Black, started as a kind and noble man, brought to evil through extreme sorrow and is one of the most tangible literary examples of how grief, anger and bitterness left unchecked can twist our motivations and behavior. The books in this series are the kinds of stories I would have gotten lost in as a child–and find I still can as an adult. There is comfort in experiencing a story where the values by which I try to live provide the path and the tools to navigate difficult times and situations.

The entire Guardians series is 100% family-friendly and filled with hope and a touch of magic. They are the perfect independent or read-aloud choice for these social-distancing times! It was exactly what I needed!

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