The Guardians: Book Three
by William Joyce
“If you have them under your pillow as you sleep, or hold it tightly, you will remember that which you need — a memory of happy days, or of deepest hopes, or even of us in better times” (Joyce, 93).
Last week Mr. Qwerty told Katherine and the other Guardians about how Toothiana’s parents, Haroom and Rashmi, met. Because there are no children in Pujam Hy Loo, the family moves to live among mortals. Their lives are peaceful for a while, until Toothiana turns twelve and loses her last baby tooth.
Then she sprouts wings, much to the delight of the other children. But their parents, the grown-ups “were bewildered… [and] [s]ome thought she was an evil spirit and should be killed; others saw ways to use her, as either a freak to be caged and paraded about, or to force her to fly to the palace of the new maharaja and steal his jewels” (86).
I don’t have the words to express how angry this makes me. She’s a child and all the adults can think of is how to use to her to increase their fortune or to kill she defies what is normal. It just…it makes me furious. As the text sums up concisely: “The grown-ups of the village had gone mad with fear and greed” (87). Basically, they’re jerks. And it won’t get any better.
The adult villagers hire hunters to set traps for Toothiana, but her parents are able to outwit them. With Haroom’s tracking skills, he’s able to “disguise their trail” and with Rashmi’s ability to communicate with animals, she’s able to “[enlist] their aid” (88). One of the hunters is particularly mysterious; he never speaks and is supposed to know the forest better than anymore. This will be important later.
While listening to Toothiana’s story, Katherine wonders “[w]hy can grown-ups be so strange and wicked sometimes?” (88). That is the question of the day. How indeed? How do children grow in narrow-minded, malicious, greedy people?
The children of the village try to help, but their parents follow them and discover where Haroom and Rashmi are hiding. They are captured and the Mysterious Hunter finally speaks: “‘Seize the parents,’ he snarled. ‘Make it known that I will slit their throats if Toothiana does not surrender. That will bring this child of flight out of hiding'” (89). Seeing the (terrible) practicality of his suggestion, the adult villagers comply.
Toothiana of course chooses to rescue them, “ready to kill any who would try to harm her parents” (90). And her parents are the same. They fought viciously to stop their daughter being captured. But Toothiana
“did not have the strength to lift them up over the angry mob. Rashmi thrust a stringed pouch into her daughter’s hands. ‘Keep these to remember us by. Keep these to protect yourself,’ she pleaded to her child.
‘Now go!’ commanded her father. ‘GO!’
With a heartrending cry, the winged girl did as her father ordered. She flew away but stopped, unsure of what to do. Her ears filled with the sound of the vengeful mob falling upon her parents.
‘Go!’ shouted her mother” (91).
I think the aspect of this scene that chokes me up is the parents and child equal fierceness to fight for the life of the other. But the really worst part is how Toothiana is unable to save her parents. It feels unnecessarily unfair and cruel in lieu of why they’re captured — out of suspicion and greed. Toothiana (and her parents) should not have to be separated nor inflicted with this kind of suffering simply because other people are jerks.It’s heavily unfair. Especially for a child.
Toothiana flies away and everything is sad:
“she screamed from the depths of her soul… It was a scream so pained and fierce that it caused all the villagers who were attacking her parents to go briefly deaf…” (92).
“She had no tears, only the blank ache of a now-empty life” (92).
She finally remembers the pouch her mother gave her. Inside she finds “a small box carved” out of single ruby. Inside, she finds all her baby teeth and note from her parents. In it, they tell her the power of baby teeth and memory; when needed, they can call up memories of hope and reams and happier days. They can serve as a reminder of goodness and dreams.
To me, this is a powerful detail. It evokes not only something I feel strongly about — the reminder of a child’s positive point of view, but also the value of memories. The precious power happy memories can have for broken, sad hearts. And that kind of reminder of innocence and positivity and potential is always something I will admire.
the conclusion of Toothiana’s story in two weeks on 16 August.
“By the end of this first miraculous day, she could fly with the speed of a bird, darting to the top of the tallest trees to choose the ripest mangoes, papayas, and starfruit for the children of the village. She played with the birds and made friends with the wind” (86).
Joyce, William. Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies. New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.