Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

The Guardians: Book Three

by William Joyce

“this was the dream she had given him when all seemed lost during one of their first great battles with Pitch!” (Joyce, 55).

Chapter Five – Chapter Eight

In the morning, the entire village of Santoff Claussen boards Bunnymund’s egg-train and journeys to the Lunar Lamadary. There’s another hint at the time frame of the story as “[t]rains were still not invented yet (Bunnymund would secretly help the credited inventors some decades later)” (31). This indicates that the story occurs prior to major, widespread modern industrialization, and additionally that it takes place a couple decades prior it. To me that would be three to four decades, so still probably in the 1700s.

This chapter prominently serves to re-introduce the Lamas, the yetis, and what exactly the Lunar Lamadary is. This is conveyed through Katherine answering the other children’s questions. But near the end, Katherine is suddenly uneasy. She no longer feels quite right with her old friends. Specifically, “[s]he didn’t really know where she wanted to be — with the children or with North and the other grown-ups. Even Kailash didn’t comfort her. She was betwixt and between” (37). It has become about Katherine’s change and growth.

Katherine eventually joins the other Guardians, ruminating on why Nightlight seems distant. She speculates it’s because he misses the battles. She also wonders the same about North, but in contrast to Nightlight the former bandit has changed a lot. And while it isn’t what Katherine notices about North’s change, I loved how he

“still loved conjuring up new toys for the children. (Just that morning he’d brought the youngest William a funny sort of toy–a round biscuit-shaped piece of wood with a string attached to it’s middle. When jerked, it would go up and down almost magically. North call it “yo-yo-ho”) (43-4).

And that’s just adorable! I love it. North created a yo-yo, and I just–I really like Santa Claus, okay?

Additionally, Katherine notes that, unlike Nightlight, North “didn’t seem sad or melancholy or lonely” but instead “[h]is face was alive with excitement” (44). Even with all the danger he’s lived through, he can still invigorated by new projects and ideas and it’s just… Yeah, keep being an awesome inspiration, North!

They arrive at the Himalayas and the Lamadary and it’s beautiful: “the cool , serene, creamy glow of  its moonstone and opal mosaics” (47). It’s short, direct, but visually sumptuous.

Another pretty description is for the horn Yaloo blows; it was “a silver horn forged from ancient meteors” (48). I like it not only for its visual spark, but the underlining story — ancient meteors used to make beautiful objects. There’s a sense of mystery to it that I find appealing.

They contact the Man in the Moon and he, after saying that none of his moonbeams have spotted any signs of Pitch, tells that he believes “the world is on the cusp of a new Golden Age” (52). And I want to know if this is linked to the Enlightenment. I hope not. The Enlightenment was a fine time, but I’ve never been a big fan of it. For reasons. Which I may go into. Sometime.

Either way, with the coming Golden Age, the Man in the Moon tells the Guardians that it will be their responsibility to guide this new age. Upon hearing that North steps forward and – remember that dream Katherine gave him? About a wondrous center of learning and protection? He presents the blueprints of this new city, saying that how it “‘was a gift, one that I now pass on'” (53). And I’m just so emotional and flailing with happiness. Yes, you share that dream, and just, yes~

Using Ombric’s mantra of believe, he conjures up a model of the dream city. It’s incredibly sweet that he acknowledges Katherine’s role in its creation; without her belief in him, seeing the goodness she felt he had, he never would have had this dream in the first place.

North tells the Man in the Moon that he has

“‘a plan for building new centers of magic… One village like Santoff Claussen is not enough, and to expand it would be to change it. What we need instead is are more places where all those kind hearts and inquiring minds–inventors, scientists, artists, visionaries–will be welcomed and encouraged. Where children will always be safe and protected and grow to become their finest selves'” (55).

Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! Notice how it doesn’t have to just be artists, but it’s not just scientists either. It’s people with imagination, who want to learn, investigate, change things. And place for children to grow and not be hindered — I am a hundred percent okay with this idea. It’s such a beautiful vision. I love it.

After North’s explanation, we get a glimpse of his vision:

“There was a great castlelike structure in its center, surrounded by workshops and cottages. A tiny Nicholas St. North could be seen striding through the village center, with his elves and Petrov, his horse, by his side. And a herd of mighty reindeer. The Yetis too were there” (56).

And it’s a visual of what it will be like but also a visual with traces of Santa Claus’ mythos – workshops, elves, and reindeer. Yeah, I can’t wait for this to become a thing in the story.

 

 

Words:

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no words

Quote:

Bunnymund: “‘I mean to say, I’ve met them, I’ve talked to them, I’ve read their minds and they’ve read mine, but do I know what they’ll say or do next at any given moment or what underwear they wear on Tuesdays and why? Do I? Do I really know?'” (40).

Works Cited:

Joyce, William. Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies. New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.

Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies

The Guardians: Book Three

by William Joyce

“So Nightlight felt most perfectly at peace when watching over Katherine as she slept” (Joyce, 17).

Chapter Two – Chapter Four

Although Santoff Claussen is in spring and a rewarding sense of peace has descended on the characters, the Guardians have enough sense not to take it for granted that Pitch has truly been defeated. They all continue to be on the look out for Pitch:

“Nightlight…scoured the night sky for signs of Pitch’s army” and “Bunnymund kept his rabbit ears tuned for ominous signs while burrowing his system of tunnels, and Ombric cast his mind about for bits of dark magic that might be creeping into the world” (13-4).

The chapter revisits the mental/emotional connection the guardians formed in Book 2:

“Their bond of friendship was so strong that it now connected them in heart and mind. Each could often sense what the others felt, and when it felt like time to gather, they would just somehow know (15-6).

For some reason here it seems less nonsensical as it did originally. It’s sweet now. The kind of comradeship that comes from understanding and being in sync with others. Also, I’m also a sucker for friendship. In particular, it makes a point to remind us that “[Nightlight] and Katherine’s bond was the greatest” (16). After what happened at the Earth’s core, I can believe it.

The chapter expands a bit on how it feels to them and I wanted to share:

“The two never tired of the other’s company and felt a pang of sadness when apart. But even that ache was somehow exquisite, for they knew that they would never be separated for long” (17).

Unfortunately, or so Nightlight feels, the one time he cannot join her is when she is sleeping or dreaming. Since he never sleeps, the whole experience is foreign to him. But the part that worries him is that, while asleep, “Katherine was there but entirely. Her mind traveled to Dreamlands where he could not follow” (17).

This strikes me as an interesting way to interpret dreaming; it’s like being somewhere. Not necessarily a dangerous place, but being asleep is not the same as being awake. When you dream/sleep there is a part of you that isn’t quite there. It’s a different state.

Also, literal dreams — not simply dreams of what one wants or wishes — take root in the story.

While watching Katherine sleep, Nightlight spies a tear on her cheek. He can’t understanding why she would be crying. Everything  is good now; what is there to be sad about? Additionally,

“[h]e knew about the power of tears. It was from tears that his diamond dagger was forged. But those were tears from wakeful times. He had never touched a Dream Tear. But before he could think better of it, he reached down and gently plucked it up.

Dream Tears are very powerful, and when Nightlight first tried to look  into it, he was nearly knocked from the tree” (18-9).

Dream Tears are strong stuff. Which makes sense. Sleep is when we rejuvenate from our lives and dreams can be inspirational, therapeutic, frightening — so it’s easy to imagine they would pull a powerful punch. Here, they are undiluted windows into the sleeper’s self.

And what does Nightlight see in Katherine’s Dream Tear? Something that “[f]or the first time in all his strange and dazzling life,” made Nightlight feel “a deep, unsettling fear” (19)? Pitch himself, “haunting her dreams” (19).

At the guardians current meeting to discuss any news of Pitch, Nightlight remains silent on what he saw in Katherine’s Dream Tear. Every other guardian says there has still been no sign of Pitch. But “[i]t was the first time Nightlight had ever lied” (22). Will that effect him? Being a lighthearted spectral boy of laughter, will doing something that can create weight (via guilt or worry) create any changes?

This detail being unknown to others, Ombric declares that “‘It’s now been eight months since we last saw Pitch. I think before we declare a victory, it would be best to consult the Man in the Moon” (22). Which means a a visit to the Lunar Lamadary in the Himalayas.

But this time, the whole village joins the guardians. They turn it into a big pre-visit party. celebration.

Before the story gets to that, the text reminds us of the five relics and how, if Pitch really is defeated, might there no longer be a need to retrieve them. My question: When will the rest show up? And further more, how do they get or decide they need them?

I do want to say that I think (so far) Book 3 has the strongest emotional throughline of growing up vs. Nightlight and Katherine.

Now the party! It full of wonderful treats and decorates and is just ♥! To list some of the delicious and delightful parts that I loved:

“eggbots whipped up frothy confections…[f]ireflies circled their heads, making halos of green-tinged light…Bunnymund’s newest chocolates–a delectable blend of Aztec cacao and purple plum…[and] [e]ven the crickets came out into the moonlight to play a sort of insect symphony to the delight of everyone” (26-8)

It’s the best.

Afterwards when everyone has gone to bed, Katherine cannot sleep. She is worried about Nightlight. He was the “only one who had not joined the party that night. And it bothered her” (28). But aside from Nightlight’s odd behavior, Katherine has found that at quiet times, her mind will wander to Pitch.

Katherine muses on Pitch’s relationship with his daughter, and how “Ombric and North were like a father and brother to her. But that wasn’t the same as a real family, was it? (29). That’s a significant question. How will it be answered? In this book (if it will be) and in The Guardians Series at large. Where does the family line exist? How significant is blood in the definition of family?

She also decides that “[s]he would find out what” was wrong with Nightlight. In doing so, “[s]he would make him happy once more. And then maybe she’d be happy too” (30). And this right here — this is why  said this book has such a beautiful plot. Katherine is working through her own feelings: what family means, what Pitch means as a father and an enemy, and why Nightlight is unhappy. But he’s unhappy because of her preoccupation with Pitch. Their feelings are a cause and effect of each other. Katherine’s decision is motivated by what Nightlight has learned but won’t tell. Everything is stacked so beautifully to make sense. I utterly love.

Finally, Katherine drifts to sleep but if she had been awake she would have “felt uneasy, as though she were being watched by a force nearly as ancient as Pitch” (30). I won’t say anything except: It’s HER. It’s striking in a re-read since Katherine was just thinking about Pitch and his daughter. I also, as I recall, believe this detail is relevant to the plot. I will wait and see.

Words:

source

no words

Book Quote:

“Bunnymund’s ears twitched. These humans and their emotions, he thought. They are so odd. They are more interested in feelings than chocolate” (21).

Works Cited:

Joyce, William. Toothiana Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies. New York: Atheneum Books, 2012. Print.

The Epic of Sundiata Keita

Sundiata, An Epic of Old Mali

by D. T. Niane, translated by G. D. Pickett

An epic about the founding of the Empire of Mali in circa.1230 A.D. by Sundiata Keita.

Mali was an extremely rich – culturally and monetarily – empire in West Africa. And although it’s extent is not completely equivalent to modern Mali, it did include the very literate and cultural nexus of Timbuktu (♥). It also had contact with Islam, which had come into northern Africa since at least circa 700 A.D., shown most explicitly through Mansa Musa.

Basically it’s awesome and I’ve loved it’s history since high school.

Ahem.

So, the epic was really good.

But then, I’ve discovered when I read Stanley Lombardo’s translation of the Iliad that I am moderately excited by narrative combat (One Piece is a good example of this: dynamic fights, excessive odds, failures, character personality expressed through action or voice rather than internal thoughts – basically a lot of what I consider “Epic” mainstays)

But see, I really liked Sologon Djata (as he was more regularly called in the text). And, yeah, I know I usually end up liking the main men in epics (I even liked Achilles), but Djata “was taciturn and used to spend the whole day just sitting in the middle of the house. Whenever his mother went out he would crawl on all fours to rummage about in the calabashes in search of food, for he was very greedy” (15).

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The Last Unicorn

by Peter S. Beagle

“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone” (Beagle, 1).

word of warning: Spoilers are contained below, so if you’ve never read The Last Unicorn I would recommend not reading below the cut

What can I say about The Last Unicorn? From the moment I read the first sentence of the Amazon preview I was hooked. There’s an immediacy to it that snares me. It may be the rhythm of the words or visual and aromal sensations called up by lilacs. Or maybe a bit of both. But I think most of all, it’s the  daintiness (evoked by the short sentence and “lilacs”) interposed on the fact she is alone. Why is she alone? And that question, coupled with the prettiness, pulls me in every time.

Additionally, there’s just something so poetical and lyrical about the writing. I’m normally not one to notice such style, though I have been known to adore pretty writing – i.e. writing that evokes a pretty or vivid visual in my head. That’s here too, but I was struck how the words themselves seemed to have flow to them. I think it helped lure me into the story.

Examples

On a personal level, there’s so many subjects addressed in The Last Unicorn that mean the world to me. Before I get into those, I want to mention that in my re-read, I noticed other themes: death, immortality, illusions, true self, and possession vs inspiration. Someday I may write more about them and how they manifest in the story. Until then, here’s some of the subjects that mean the world to me.

First, unicorns. Compared to other mythical creatures, they do fascinate them more than most. I think it has something to do with their range: they can be dainty and vain or deadly and ferocious or kind and ethereal. They can purify polluted water or demand impossible standards of goodness.

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The Horse and His Boy | Characters

from The Chronicles of Narnia

by C. S. Lewis

“‘I say, Aravis, there are going to be a lot of things to get used to in these Northern countries'” (Lewis, 206).

As I said previously:

I happened to find this on my bookshelf while organizing my piles of writing into binders and read it over the weekend. Of the seven books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia, this has always been my favorite. Which is probably why it’s the only one I have with full color illustrations (and which was the specific edition that I read).

The story takes place during “the Golden Age when Peter was High King in Narnia and his brother and two sisters were King and Queens under him” (3). How this happened and who they are is explained in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and their reign (the Golden Age) mentioned.

My main question while reading it was: why did I like it so much, or what made it likable to me? What, if anything, made it stand out against the other Narnian books?

Last time, I discussed how the culture of Calormen is meant to caricature the culture and tone of the 1001 Nights but without Islam, seeing as Calormene worship multiple gods.

In fact when I started reading, I tried to wrap my head around the presentation of the Calormene natives (Bree’s owner and Arsheesh, Shasta’s fisherman father). Both seemed written to be dislikable. And this brought to my mind the idea of characters flaws and how non-white (or non-English coded) characters are portrayed in the story.

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Seven Daughter and Seven Sons

by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy

I was so exited when I found this book. As part of a long planned move, I’ve been plowing through old boxes to get rid of unnecessary items and one of the treasures I came across was this book. I’d always remembered it, but for years I didn’t know where it had vanished to. Imagine how thrilled I was to find it!

So without further, let’s talk about Seven Daughters and Seven Sons.

The beginning – it was so exiting to read it!

“These are the words written long ago by Buran, daughter of Malik, a poor shopkeeper of Baghdad. She put them down so that her children, and their children, and their children, and all those who came after them would know of the remarkable events that had given rise to their illustrious lineage… Read these words, then, and open your eyes wide in amazement at the marvels that Allah has wrought” (1)

The basic story follows the fourth daughter (Buran) of seven who dresses up and disguises herself as a young man and becomes a successfully rich merchant to help her poor family.

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The Castle of Llyr

The Chronicles of  Prydain

by Lloyd Alexander

“‘For generations the daughters of the House of Llyr were among the most skillful enchantresses in Prydain, using their powers with wisdom and kindliness'” (Alexander, 158).

This one will be a bit different than the others. Instead of going chronologically through the plot and my reaction, opinion, and reflection on characters, events, and descriptions, I wanted to focus instead on the idea of an enchantress and the sorcery practiced by women as manifested in The Castle of Llyr.

First – Elionwy’s sacrifice of her magic. As she tells Taran and the others,

“‘Achern cast a spell over me and I remembered very little. Until the bauble was in my hands once more. Then — then it was very strange. In the light of it, I could see all of you. Not with my eyes, really, but with my heart. I knew you wanted me to destroy the spells. And I wanted to, as much as you did.

Yet, it was as though there were two of me. One did and one didn’t want to give up the spells. I knew it was my only chance to become an enchantress, and if I gave up my powers then that would be the end of it'” (201-2).

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Fairy Tale Friday: Princess of the Tower

Rapunzel

and Other Maiden in the Tower Tales From Around the World

Since it’s May I will be focusing exclusively on Rapunzel or ATU 310 Maiden in the Tower tales.

Princess of the Tower (94-101)

ATU 310 Maiden in the Tower

So Princess Solima was put into a fortress by the sea by her father, the king, because she had no qualms about marrying a poor man. (Seriously, I should write a crossover with this fairy tale and Disney’s Aladdin.)

At this point, our tale transitions to the poorer people. None of them precisely know why she’s gone, and we learn that “[e]ven the laborers of the fields…heard the news” and that one shepherd was an especially thoughtful thinker. He would

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Fairy Tale Friday: Princess of the Tower

Rapunzel

and Other Maiden in the Tower Tales From Around the World

Since it’s May I will be focusing exclusively on Rapunzel or ATU 310 Maiden in the Tower tales.

Princess of the Tower (94-101)

ATU 310 Maiden in the Tower

Ah, this tale had an interesting problem for the princess at the beginning:

“She just sat and silently moped. She did not waste away, which puzzled the physicians; she did not grow pale, which surprised her attendants; and she did not weep, which astonished herself. But she felt as if her heart had grown heavy, as if there was no use in anything” (94).

Compared to other fairy tales, the princess’ malady is unique. And after doctors and astrologers and all sort of wise men (some characterized with racist stereotyping and description) try to figure out what’s wrong, they conclude some peculiar answers. Such as “the princess would die if the glow-worm won the race” (95).

A more sensibly magician says that the princess is tired and “‘is sick of being waited on hand and foot and bowed down and all that sort of thing'” (95). It’s a unique diagnostic since it asserts that excessive wealth means less to do and less choice. This is literally Jasmine, from Disney’s Aladdin‘s problem, and possibly some of what drove Sabo, from One Piece, to escape to Gray Terminal.

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E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth’s Core!

The Guardians: Book Two

by William Joyce

“This was a new way of thinking for her, and she loved it–needed to do it. These stories had become a mysterious new force in her, a way of healing and understanding the wonders and sorrows of her new wild life.” (Joyce, 245).
Chapter Twenty-Nine – Chapter Thirty-Three 

Having grown tired of all his strenuous work at recreating a false library to take to Pitch, Ombric sinks exhausted into a chair. He reminisces about all the knowledge he has learned in his long life, and how

“[h]e felt as though he had relived the entire arc of his life. He remembered learning each and every bit of magic: where he’d been, who he’d been with at the time. He realized he had achieved a rich, wild, vivid life. He had lived as he had believed. He had seen and known more wonder than almost any mortal ever had” (212).

To live the kind of life Ombric describes would be, to me, a life well-lived. To live as one believes with a life filled with wonder – it sounds like a perfect way to have lived.

This also gives us a glimmer of what Ombric’s life has been: a journey of learning, of having an open mind, of experiences with others who may not even still be alive. It just strikes me as such a marvelous, engaging enterprise to imagine the full life Ombric must have lived. Just kinda blows my mind and warms my heart.

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