The Guardians: Book Two
by William Joyce
“’I am E. Aster Bunnymund,’ he said in a deep, melodious voice. ‘I’ve been expecting you'” (Joyce, 128).
Chapter Sixteen – Chapter Twenty
Katherine and North fly to Easter Island in the Lamadary rocket. She reflects on the situation and her feelings. In particular, I want to point out this little thought:
“Still, she had been brave for so long, and truth be told, she was a little weary of having to be such a grown-up. She wanted Ombric near. He was like a father to her” (121).
Yes. This is exactly the aspect of her relationship to Ombric I find fascinating, and I would love to see how this develops. Because Katherine, after discovering Pitch used to be a father, ruminates on how she never knew her father and the lack that creates in her life.
But what I love about those two sentences is that it acknowledges that Ombric, while not her biological father, did raise her. And consequently, he feels the way Katherine thinks a father should feel.
What I would love to see in the final book is an acknowledgement that Ombric is Katherine’s father in all but birth. While she won’t ever know her own parents/father since they’re dead, that doesn’t make Ombric less of a parent. Just thinking about the possibility gives me so many feelings.
The two, plus Kailash, land on Easter Island. No one is about except for massive stone heads. If the story is supposed to take place in the 1700s, I expect the island conflicts would have decimated most of the population by the time North and Katherine arrive. Which makes the emptiness of the island not as terrible as it could be. (Maybe).
They have a palatable sense of being watched until North yells that they’re looking for the Pooka and need to get to the Earth’s core. Then rabbit ears rise out of the stone heads and the mysterious rabbit man appears. His name is E. Aster Bunnymund.
First there’s something weird about transforming the moai into products of Bunnymund. But perhaps he redesigned them to his personal purposes later? And even if he didn’t, the world-building in The Guardians maintains that he invented most phenomenon and architecture.
Heck, he used the leftover earth he had from turning the earth from an egg-shape to a sphere to make Australia. As he tells Katherine,
“‘Oh, I fixed it–a nip here, a tuck there,’ the Pooka said matter-of-factly. ‘It’s rather sad, really. Ovals are such an interesting shape. And circles? Well, so ordinary, common, dull.’ Then he sighed deeply as if saving the planet had been a particularly distressing household chore. ‘I used the excess dirt to make a few more continents. Australia is my best work, I think,’ he said. ‘I’m quite good at digging'” (149).
(which is sad since rabbits are a deadly invasive species in Australia).
This shows that the world works in a completely different context of origin for everything.
Second, his name is a flower, which is fitting since Easter is associated with spring. I’m not sure if it was intentional; it looks more like his name is a play on “Easter” than a flower. But I thought it was a neat coincidence.
After introducing himself, Bunnymund takes Katherine, North, and their ship into his tunnels. He proceeds to give them a tour of his vast concoctions of chocolate and collections of eggs. They learn a bit about him (such as how he made Australia). But North is restless and wants to get on with the rescue. That’s the most important thing to him. Katherine tries to befriend Bunnymund but he says that he isn’t interested in helping.
While this is going on, the narrative switches back to Pitch. Having transformed the djinni body into a flying sleigh, he flies to the Andes and enters a volcano to reach the center of the earth. As soon as I read that I wondered if that was true. Are there volcanoes in the Andes? And there are. Research!
The atmosphere of Pitch’s headquarters is grim:
“The air reeked of sulfur — shallow pools of milky lava flowed around one end of the room… Then there was a sound like fingers snapping, and blue flames appeared from the lava pools, casting everything in an eerie glow” (135-6).
I love the description. As dark and ominous as the Fearlings are (who are crowded around the children as they try to form a circle around Nightlight), the actual details are olfactory and the ones that are visual rely on colors that aren’t black. In particular, the lava is described as “milky” which seems more unnatural. Lava shouldn’t be white. And that fire burst out of it… Yeah, this is not a safe, natural place.
The children are frightened but trying to be positive. Sasha, for example, reminds herself that Katherine, North, and Nightlight will rescue them for “she knew that as surely are she knew that the sky was blue, the grass was green, and fireflies cheated at games of tag” (137). And I really just love that little tidbit of world-building with the fireflies.
Meanwhile Nightlight’s light has been diminishing since he was stabbed by Pitch but the “children’s strength was feeding his own” which I thought was really sweet. Their strength helps his own light to strengthen. I guess I just like the idea that others strength or attitudes can bolster one’s own strength or self.
He also thinks of Katherine and “of how much he wanted to see her again, and become stronger still. He had spent thousands of years trapped inside this monster. He could survive whatever it wanted to do to him now” (138).
This shows their growing bond, but also Nightlight’s determination. His fortitude comes from his protection and desire to be with others. And that’s always a trait I can admire probably because I have some of that myself. (Whether I actually achieve that or protect or help anyone is debatable.)
Pitch attempts to frighten Nightlight with his plans of turning Katherine into a Fearling Princess. But when Pitch grabs Nightlight there is an explosion of light. It
“[sends] Pitch staggering backwards.
He grasped his hand in pain, and for a moment his palm and fingers seemed to glow, then became flesh-colored. The look on Pitch’s face was an unsettling mix of fury and something else. Something the children had never expected to see. Something that looked like…sorrow.
Pitch screamed. He covered his injured hand with his cloak” (139).
In that moment, a bit of Kozmotis Pitchiner surfaces. And this fills him with anger at the continual sorrow he still retains from the lost of his daughter. It’s a startlingly and striking moment.
“It was all very, very egg-centric” (146).
“Countless Fearlings were building and shaping innumerable lead weapons, armor plates, and shields” (155).
Joyce, William. E. Aster Bunnymund and Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core! New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.