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Carey Bryson

Don't Be Preachy or Boring

By March 14, 2013

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Rise of the GuardiansThe movie Rise of the Guardians is available on Blu-ray and DVD this week, and is my pick for best movie to put in an Easter basket. Renowned author William Joyce was an executive producer on this movie, and the movie was inspired by his stories and illustrations from The Guardians book series.

William Joyce has authored several beloved books for children including A Day with Wilbur Robinson, which inspired the Disney movie Meet the Robinsons; George Shrinks, which inspired the PBS KIDS TV series of the same name; The Leafmen and the Brave Good Bugs, which inspired the upcoming film Epic; and many more. Interestingly, he wrote The Guardians book series at the same time as Rise of the Guardians was being developed, so the books tell sort of origins stories about the characters and the movie picks up later with an adventure in which they all ban together to defeat their common enemy.

The thing that intrigues me about William Joyce's work, is that there is not a concrete pattern he follows that explains his success. In A Day with Wilbur Robinson, the standout quality is not character development, it's the strange and wonderful juxtaposition between what's going on with the text (the story sounds like a typical visit to a friend's house) and what's going on with the pictures (we see that this was no ordinary play date). In Leaf Men, it's the thrilling adventure that makes the book so beloved among children. And in The Guardians series, the deliciously rich character development, among other things, make the books classics.

So, with all of his diverse stories, I wondered what William Joyce would say are the most important components of a tale for children. I expected a long and detailed answer about character development, plot and pictures, but when I asked him the question in an interview related to Rise of the Guardians, he gave me this answer:

"Don't be preachy or boring."

That's it. And when you consider the film, that advice was certainly adhered to. Rise of the Guardians delivers a thrilling adventure with a whole lot of heart, but it's not at all preachy. And it certainly isn't boring. The story of The Guardians was born out of a question Joyce's children asked him: "Are Santa and the Easter Bunny friends?" Perhaps that is why the story resonates with the child in all of us. And couldn't all parents, teachers, and anyone else who works with kiddos also benefit from Joyce's advice? Don't be preachy or boring -- what a great motto for anyone who loves a kid.

So that's a little bit about the story of the film and where it came from. Tomorrow, we get to my favorite component of the movie: the characters.

More About Rise of the Guardians:


(Photo courtesy DreamWorks Animation)

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