The Guardians: Book Three
by William Joyce
“Selfless like her father. Pure of heart like her mother. She was named Toothiana” (Joyce, 84).
A big hullabo is made by the Lunar Lamas over Katherine’s lost tooth. Bunnymund is baffled by their reaction. As long as she’s all right, that’s what matters. Besides,
“‘[i]t isn’t actually lost. She holds it in her hand, and now she’ll grow another one. It’s all very natural and, frankly, rather ordinary. It’s not like she lost chocolate truffled egg or anything'” (68).
♥ for Bunnymund and his logic. I can relate to the way he thinks.
But the Lamas reiterate that the value of Katherine’s tooth is that it’s a “child’s tooth” (69). As a result “Her Most Royal Highness” will visit them, which has never happened and they are tremendously thrilled. Hearing this North, bless him, wonders “if this personage on this continent, [for] he’d likely stolen something from her in his crime-filled younger years” (69).
It turns out, no, he never stole from her for she is not simply royalty but is, in fact, ” ‘Queen Toothiana, gatherer and protector of children’s teeth!'” (69). Everyone seems skeptical or surprised except Bunnymund:
“‘Oh, her,’ he said dismissively. ‘She dislikes chocolate. She claims it’s bad for children’s teeth'” (70).
I love this dynamic. One, it shows he’s aware of her. Two, it shows how feels about her principles (and furthermore, what those might be — the value of teeth outweighs chocolate. The reason for this will be explained later). Third, it shows how he thinks of her. (We’ll learn what the Toothiana thinks later). And fourth, it hints at, when they do officially meet, how they might interact: diagonal interests but not necessarily in opposition. (I seriously love all the Guardians’ interactions.)
Katherine, North, and Ombric (who feels that he remembers hearing about her) are curious. Mr. Qwerty, the bookworm-turned-library offers to tell them about her. But the story actually starts with her parents.
Whoo. Okay. Feels time.
First, the drawings connected to the story look more sketchy or smudged than the usual drawings. It gives them a sense of ???
Second, it opens with the Sisters of Flight, winged women, one of whom was Toothiana’s mother:
“The image of a beautiful winged woman appeared on one of Mr. Qwerty’s pages. She was human-sized, with long, willowly arms and legs and a heart-shaped face. But her wings were magnificent, and she held a bow and arrow of extraordinary design” (71).
The visual of these women always makes me happy because they remind me of an old story idea from my childhood. Also, it’s amazing how rare it is for me to read about winged people in stories. I can only think of two others besides this one. I’m sure they’re out there, but I haven’t come across them yet.
Basically people (or women) with wings is my childhood creative nostalgia, so thank you book written for children. You’re hinting my inspiration marks. ♥
Mr. Qwerty goes on to explain more about who the Sisters of Flight were and what they did. They were immortal, living in the mountain city of Punjam Hy Loo. Elephants guarded passage up the mountain, and “‘[n]o humans were allowed to enter, for the mountain’s jungle was a haven for the beasts of the wild–a place where they could be safe from men and their foolishness'” (72). I can get behind that.
He then goes on to tell them about Toothiana’s father, Haroom. I remembered that he was human, but I had forgotten that he “had been sold at birth into slavery” (72). He becomes the companion to a maharaja, and despite their social differences, they “became great friends” (73).
Here’s a little bit of character building – it tells us ????? Haroom is admirable enough to earn the friendship of a maharaja (“the slave with the heart of a prince”). Also that the maharaja may not have other friends. Furthermore, it’s revealed that the maharaja was vain and spoiled and childish. He got everything he ever wanted but was never satisfied.
“‘Haroom, who had nothing, wanted nothing and so was very content. Secretly, the maharaja admired his friend for this. For his part, Haroom admired the maharaja for knowing what he wanted–and getting it'” (74).
Additionally, the maharaja loves hunting and Haroom, unfortunately, is an excellent tracker. Being a slave, he can’t stop his friend from killing and mounting the heads of every animal in the kingdom. All except one: “‘the flying elephant of Punjam Hy Loo'” (74).
But the question is: how can the maharaja get up there? His wizards inspire him to construct a “craft of the lost teeth of children” because their teeth still contain the potential of dream and hence the ability to fly (77). Also, a craft of children’s teeth is slightly eerie to me. Although, it sounds pretty (and extravagant):
“‘It was a ship of gleaming white, fashioned from thousands of interlocking teeth. It had wings on each side of an oval gondola. The inside was lined with sumptuous carpets and intricately patterned pillows. And a single lamp hung from a mast to light the way'” (77).
Of course the plan works. They arrived in Punjam Hy Loo and it doesn’t take long to find the flying elephant. Haroom, using his tracking skills, spies an unfamiliar track “‘that could only belong to the flying elephant, for although they similar to a normal elephant’s, his keen eye saw one addition: an extra digit pointing backward, like that of a bird'” (79). I love this little evolutionary detail. If it’s a flying creature, it will need to be able to perch.
The maharaja readies his gold-tipped arrow to kill the flying elephant when the Sisters of Flight descend “‘with all manner of weapons at the ready–gleaming swords, razor-sharp daggers, fantastical flying spears with wings of their own'” (80-1). Yay! Love this visual. They aren’t taking the maharaja’s senseless hunting, at least not on their mountain. Heck, yes!
Changing his goal, the maharaja aims his arrow at one of the Sisters of Flight, thinking they will make a better prize. Haroom tells him to stop and when he doesn’t, intercepts the arrow and is shot. The maharaja is horrified by what happened. And Sister of Flight who he Haroom saved marveled that there could exist a man who was selfless. So saying, she pulls the arrow out and heals him.
“‘ Haroom stirred, and his eyes fluttered open. All he could see was the face of the Sister of Flight. And all she could see was the brave and noble Haroom'” (82).
Burying me in my feelings. (BUT WHY DOES IT WORK? WHY DO I HAVE SUCH STRONG FEELINGS?)
Before the maharaja can leave, the Sisters of Flight demand he leave behind his cruelty and vanity. But after those qualities “‘were gone, there was little left–the maharaja was as simple as a baby monkey'” (83). And while that’s an adorable image, it’s not so with him. I remember where this is going. (Also, poor monkeys having to be connected to him.)
The Sister of Flight and Haroom marry and a year later had a child: Toothiana. She was “‘[s]elfless like her father. Pure of heart like her mother'” (84). I love this. It shows the strengths of her parents but also tells us about her. Yay!
Toothiana’s story continues in two weeks on 2 August.
“Well, that raised eyebrows from every one of them. Everyone except Bunnymund” (69).
Joyce, William. Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies. New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.