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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday William Joyce - December 11

Happy Birthday William Joyce - December 11

William Joyce described the main characters in his new series, The Guardians of Childhood, as "capable of extraordinary things, all in the defense of kids -- to keep them safe, to keep their imaginations alive, and their hearts happy and soaring and full of possibilities." (Simon and Schuster).  The Guardians include The Man in the Moon, who Joyce describes as "The Dude. He's the Guy who starts in all." ( Video from Book Expo America).  Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, the Easter Bunny, are a few of the other Guardians.  Joyce came up with the idea for the series over 20 years ago to rescue these heroes from possibly fading away or becoming not as relevant with today's kids. When I heard all of this I became so excited to celebrate his birthday and to begin to share the stories or "mythologies" behind these real childhood heroes with my children.

The Man in the Moon is the first picture book in The Guardians of Childhood series.  I was lucky enough to reserve a copy from my local library and was slightly nervous to read it because the expectations I had were so high.  However, I was not disappointed.  We learned that in fact, there is a Man in the Moon and that before he was a man he was a little boy.  An epic battle lead his moon to Earth.  When he was older he learned all about the children of Earth -- their wants and their fears -- from balloons that floated all to way to him.  He wanted to help the children of Earth but he knew he couldn't do it by himself.  Together the Guardians work with Moonbots and Moonmice to give the children a wonderful gift.

Last week we celebrated Colleen Kessler's Birthday and in her book A Project Guide to the Solar System I remembered an activity called Cocoa Craters.  I thought with a twist this activity could be a great way to celebrate William Joyce's birthday and his new book.

We had just read The Man in the Moon the night before -- it was fresh in our minds -- so we went right to the part of the book where MiM (Man in the Moon) kicks a rock to reveal bright white sand.  In the background of the illustration on the page there are a few very cool craters.  I told my son that we were going to make the surface of the moon and have meteors come flying in to make craters.

To begin this activity we covered the counter with newspaper and located a baking tin.  Then, my son scooped 2 cups of white flour into tin.
Two cups of salt were added to the two cups of flour.
He smoothed the lunar surface with a spatula.
He sprinkled (then needed a little assistance -- as it was flying everywhere) NesQuik chocolate powder over the lunar surface.  The NesQuik helps the meteor impact show up better. The recipe from A Project Guide to the Solar System called for cocoa powder which I didn't have so we improvised with the Nesquik and it worked fine.
We found meteors (aka rocks) outside around our house.  He placed them in order from largest to smallest.
Then, he let the biggest meteor fly by holding it above the lunar surface and dropping it straight down.
We compared his crater to the illustration by William Joyce.  After comparing these craters, my son tried out the rest of the meteors he collected and we talked about the similarities and differences.
Now for the twist, we dumped the mixture of flour, salt, and cocoa into a round pie tin. 
I once again sprinkled NesQuik on the surface.  In Man in the Moon, MiM had been observing the children of Earth and learned that "growing up is tricky business."  He wanted to help them in some way.  While he was thinking about what to do is when he kicked a rock to reveal the brightly colored sand underneath.  This gave him an idea.
My son pretended he was the Moonbots and Moonmice and the other Guardians as he flicked his finger to reveal the bright white moon sand.  
After a couple of attempts and a little extra cocoa he flicked his way to making his own Man in the Moon -- complete with a meteor nose. A word of caution -- my kids had a hard time understanding kicking all the cocoa off but leaving the cocoa in place for the eyes, nose, and mouth.  So, we just flicked away and then added cocoa to darken up those places!

If you would like more creative and fun activities with books by William Joyce, download The William Joyce Reading Experience.  There are many activities including investigating what it would be like if you shrunk like George in George ShrinksClick here to Download and Print the activity sheet.

Don't tell my children but I ordered The Man in the Moon for them for Christmas.  Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (for children 7-11 years) is also available.  Support Happy Birthday Author by purchasing at


3.  George Shrinks Website - PBS Kids with lots of activities
4.  Meet the Robinsons -  Disney DVD Page
5.  Reading Rainbow Episode - Dinosaur Bob and his Adventures with the Family Lazardo - Vimeo 
6.  Complete Video Interview with Reading Rockets
7.  Text interview - HarperCollins, A113 Animations
8.  The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore - Website
9.  Moonbot Studios - WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitter
10.  William Joyce Art Exhibit Photos -
11. NCCIL Page on William Joyce
12.  Lesson ideas and Activities for George Shrinks, A Day with Wilbur Robinson, Bently and Egg, Snowie Rolie, Rolie Polie Olie, Santa Calls - Happy Birthday Author
13. William Joyce discusses The Guardians Series - Book Expo America

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