William Joyce's Guardians of Childhood
Librarians love when kids’ books, especially books in a series, are adapted into movies. We all hope that a good adaptation will spark an interest in reading, whether it’s the original material, other books in a series, other books by the author or even featured nonfiction subject matter. But there’s also the anxiety: will the film adaptation actually be good? Will it remain reasonably true to the source material? Will kids actually want to see the movie?
William Joyce, mostly known for his picture books, has a distinct style that lends itself to animation. He’s no stranger to having his books adapted to television and film: Meet the Robinsons, Rolie Polie Olie and the upcoming adaptation of The Leaf Men.
Joyce’s next big film The Rise of the Guardians, which he was set to direct before he had to bow out due to the death of his daughter, is based on an ambitious project called The Guardians of Childhood that will span 13 books including picture books and early reader novels. Similar to Marvel’s Avengers but instead of the world’s mightiest superheroes, this team brings together fantasy characters that all children know and love – Santa Claus, Jack Frost, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. The books will re-introduce readers to these characters and reveal how they came to be the legends they are today.
The big difference between Rise of the Guardians/Guardians of Childhood and most other film adaptations of kids’ books is that the film is an extension of the books and not a direct adaptation. The film takes place 200 years after the books and brings these characters into the present, uniting to defeat Pitch, the Bogeyman.
In an interview, Joyce remarked: "Because I don't want people to read the book and then go see the movie and go 'oh, I like the book better', and I also didn't want them to know what happens in the movie."
Smart creators like William Joyce are taking advantage of the many popular ways that kids experience narrative to deliver a full story through multiple mediums. When kids discover a story they love, whether the starting point is a film or a book, kids will appreciate more adventures instead of the same adventure adapted in a different format.