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About The Book

In the first book of a multibook series, find out how a round, jolly baby became the great white hope of the Milky Way—and ringleader of the Guardians of Childhood.

Up there in the sky.
Don’t you see him?
No, not the moon.
The Man in the Moon.

He wasn’t always a man.
Nor was he always on the moon.

He was once a child.
Like you.

Until a battle,
a shooting star,
and a lost balloon
sent him on a quest.

Meet the very first guardian of childhood.
MiM, the Man in the Moon.

Reading Group Guide

A Discussion Guide to

The Man in the Moon
(part of the Guardians of Childhood series)

by William Joyce

Discussion Questions

1.  Before reading this with the group, ask them if they have ever heard of the Man in the Moon. Then ask them if they know of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jack Frost, Mother Goose, the Sandman, and the Tooth Fairy. What do they know about each one? Are there different stories about each of these characters? How do the students respond to the varying stories?

2. How did the Man in the Moon get his nickname? Who gave it to him?

3. Describe Pitch. What kind of person is he?

4. “Night-light, bright light, sweet dreams I bestow. Sleep tight, all night, forever I will glow” was a beloved song for MiM. What tune do you think this song can be sung to? Can you make up your own tune for this song? 

5. Compare and contrast the Moon Clipper to the Nightmare Galleon. Which ship was the best one? Provide evidence from the book to support your answer.

6. After the great explosion on the moon, who took care of the infant MiM? What was his schooling like?

7. Would it be fun to jump around the moon and explore all the many tunnels and craters?

8. Moonbots, moonmice, lunar moths, and glowworms make good companions, so why was the Man in the Moon feeling lonely?

9. When the Man in the Moon discovered his parents’ telescope, what did MiM look for first? He didn’t find what he was looking for but he did make a discovery that helped to lessen his loneliness. What did he discover?

10. What do you think Lunar Ice Cream tastes like? What is Comet Surprise? Does Space Juice Nectarine taste like nectarines? What are starfish?

11.  When you are sad, what makes you feel better?

12.  What did the Man in the Moon do to protect the children of the Earth?

13.  What is a guardian? Why did the Man in the Moon believe the children of Earth need guardians? Should all parents take the oath of the guardians?

14. What are the differences between the oath Nightlight took for the Man in the Moon’s parents and the oath the other guardians took for the Man in the Moon?
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Guide prepared by Lynn Dobson, librarian at East Brookfield Elementary School, East Brookfield, MA. 

This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.


About The Author

photograph (c) Tony Reans

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians series, Dinosaur Bob series, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and see upcoming work on Instagram.

About The Illustrator

photograph (c) Tony Reans

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians series, Dinosaur Bob series, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and see upcoming work on Instagram.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 6, 2011)
  • Length: 56 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442435513
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® AD830L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

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Raves and Reviews

"A fabulous recapturing of an old, real fairytale world. Dark. Mysterious. Stunning! " --MAURICE SENDAK, Caldecott-winning creator of Where the Wild Things Are

"William Joyce, to put it simply, is a genius, and we are lucky to have another book from him. The Man in the Moon is filled with tenderness, love, and enchantment. It's an unforgettable story that will leave readers wanting more...and luckily there IS more, because The Man in the Moon is just the first in the Guardian's of Childhood series, which will, I predict, take their rightful places in the hearts of children everywhere." --BRIAN SELZNICK, author/illustrator of the Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret

"Each of William Joyce's books has been more beautifully painted, more magically imagined and more deliciously written than the one that came before. The Man in the Moon is the latest dazzling masterpiece, the one we Joyceans, young and old, have been pining for. It instantly became my children's favorite book." --MICHAEL CHABON, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

* “Joyce's (A Day with Wilbur Robinson) concoction, the inaugural offering in the Guardians of Childhood series (with films and 12 books to follow), is a rich, cinematic brew of steampunk fancies. His sumptuous spreads are crowded with rotund telescopes, Jules Verne rocket ships, and sherbet-bearing robots, all painted in a superb palette of indigo and gold. The infant Man in the Moon (named for the Moon Clipper, an extraterrestrial airship that disguises itself as a moon at night) is hidden away by his parents in order to escape the nefarious Pitch, "the King of Nightmares," renowned for "plundering planets, extinguishing stars, and scuttling every airship that crossed his path." Without his parents, but amply provided for, the acronymically nicknamed MiM grows up, round-faced and nattily dressed, orbiting Earth in the derelict clipper ("It was now just a moon"). Learning of the hopes and dreams of Earth's children, he gathers a team of fellow guardians to protect and console them. Joyce combines elemental fairyland themes--a cloistered heir, secret powers, mysterious good deeds--into a tale that's warm and fuzzy, swashbuckling, and dazzlingly inventive all at the same time.”

- Publishers Weekly 7/4/11 *Starred Review*

* "William Joyce invents a breathtaking landscape for his history of the original guardian of childhood: the Man in the Moon. As a baby, MiM, as he is called, travels the skies in a golden-sailed Moon Clipper with his mother, father and Nightlight, a kind of fairy godfather. Each night, the vessel transforms into the Moon.

One day, Pitch, the King of Nightmares, with jet-black hair in up-floating coils as menacing as Medusa's snakes, hunts down this legendary child who has never had a bad dream. Nightlight whisks MiM away to safety, just before Pitch captures the child's parents. As Nightlight plunges his diamond dagger into Pitch's heart, an explosion results, and when MiM later reaches the Moon's surface, he sees the image of his parents etched in the stars. Their constellation offers MiM comfort, and the moon creatures rally around to educate and protect the baby.

Joyce's fans will relish the parallels with his earlier tour de force about a mythic man in a magical land, Santa Calls. Santa rides in his sleigh; MiM flies on his moth. Santa learns of children's wishes through letters; their hopes and dreams travel to MiM by helium balloons. When MiM comes up with a solution to children's nighttime fears, he recruits the Moon's minions and his team of earthling Guardians (Santa, the Tooth Fairy, etc.). Pitch and Nighlight's fates will be the subject of subsequent episodes, but this first adventure in the Guardians of Childhood series offers a visual feast and a complete mythology of the Man in the Moon." --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness. STARRED REVIEW.

"Joyce’s prowess as an illustrator is undeniable, and this may well be his most ambitious, marvelous-looking title to date. Only a sure and meticulous hand could conjure up such luscious lunar moths and battling constellations."--Kirkus Reviews

"With the aura of an established classic, the first volume in Joyce’s long-anticipated series, “The Guardians of Childhood,” is worth the wait. And what a brilliant concept! The hero, MiM, or the Man in the Moon, is just the first beloved figure of childhood lore to get his own tale—the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy and Jack Frost are to follow. With lots of detail in its gold-flecked blues, the lavish illustration will set 6-year-old minds ticking, and though the King of Nightmares makes an appearance, this is a story primarily about sweet."--The New York Times Book Review

This gorgeously strange picture book, the first in a projected series, traces the origins of the Man in the Moon, who, after losing his parents in a battle with the King of Nightmares, is raised by a retinue of giant glowworms and mice in tasseled sailor caps. Joyce’s shimmering images are at once adorable and otherworldly: a lunar moth bears the sleeping baby hero through space; at dinnertime, starfish swarm the sky.

--The New Yorker (12/5/12)

"Resplendent, almost glowing."--The Wall Street Journal

Awards and Honors

  • Heather's Pick - Children

Resources and Downloads

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More books from this author: William Joyce

More books in this series: The Guardians of Childhood