Picture Book Showcase #2

Welcome to another Picture Book showcase!

Today's theme is William Joyce in Abilene.

William Joyce

William Joyce is an author and illustrator. He has some books that are probably very recognizable to avid readers, even if you don't recognize him by name. We will get into the book listing momentarily, but first, let's talk a bit about why I'm featuring him in this post, instead of doing another topical theme like last time, or focusing on another author/illustrator. 

Within the last couple years, I've taken a couple trips out of town for my graduate program, which I talked about finishing up last week. Between where I live and where my graduate program was at Denton, Texas (University of North Texas), is the city of Abilene, Texas. Abilene, TX is a pretty small city, having a population of around 170,000 people. It is a very good break point when driving from West Texas to East Texas and vice versa. There is a zoo, a really fun history museum, and it also happens to be the Storybook Capital of America. 

Abilene, TX is the home of the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) and downtown it features various statues of children's literature characters. I had been to the NCCIL many years before, when I was still in grade school, and had seen an exhibit on the Berenstain Bears. The museum frequently has different galleries that focus on different authors/illustrators. They feature conceptual art, various artworks from their published books, and they usually even have copies of the books featured in front of their respective display areas, so you can read them while you visit and see where the art came from. I got to go to 2 different exhibits over the last couple years, but I didn't see the one that featured William Joyce. Instead, I read some of his books so I could see how his work was featured in the sculptures downtown. 

Every year, during the Children's Art & Literacy Festival, a new sculpture is added to downtown Abilene, and some of the sculptures put up include William Joyce's characters. The festival was started in 2012 and has become an annual event, but I've yet to be able to attend it. I'm hoping to one of these years, but that's not the point. The point is that these sculptures are incredibly cool and I'll see about digging up some of my trip photos later to share them with you all. Today I just want to share some of the books that I read to prepare for that trip, because I think that William Joyce's work is worth reading and sharing. 

Without further ado, here are the books!

Rolie Polie Olie Santa Calls
Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family LazardoGeorge Shrinks
The Man in the MoonThe Sandman
Jack Frost


  • Rolie Polie Olie
  • Santa Calls
  • Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo
  • George Shrinks
  • The Man in the Moon (The Guardians of Childhood #1)
  • The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie (The Guardians of Childhood #2)
  • Jack Frost (The Guardians of Childhood #3)


So many of these are probably pretty recognizable, particularly if you are familiar with other adaptations of some of these stories. 

Rolie Polie Olie is a very simple story. It tells of a day in the life of main character Rolie Polie Olie and his family. Rolie is a robot and we get to share a day with him. This book was adapted into a children's television series which aired on the Disney Channel's preschool centered block at one point in the early 2000s. 

Santa Calls is a fun holiday story that features three kids who live in Abilene, Texas that get to go on an adventure with Santa Claus. Art Atchinson Aimesworth gets a special call from Santa himself, and goes to the North Pole with his sister, Esther, and his friend, Spaulding. This is a fun adventure story that is great at Christmastime, but that can still be enjoyed during the regular year. It has some vintage feeling elements to it and I just thought it was a lot of fun. 

Dinosaur Bob and His Adventures with the Family Lazardo is a book about what else? A dinosaur whose name is Bob that is found and adopted by a family when they are on a trip. Bob  plays trumpet and enjoys baseball, and on top of it all, he is a dinosaur! What more could you want from a story? This one definitely has some A Day with Wilbur Robinsonvibes to it, which makes it really fun.

George Shrinks is the story of a three-inch tall boy. With a normal sized baby brother who is giant to him, things can get pretty crazy. George is kind of like a human version of Stuart Little in some ways as far as his size goes. He has a toy airplane he rides in and he can have all kinds of interesting adventures without leaving his house. This book was also adapted into an animated television series in the early 2000s, which aired on PBS Kids.

The next three books are part of a bigger series known as The Guardians of Childhood. In addition to these three picture books, there are three chapter books, which I have not yet had the pleasure of reading. However, these may be the most well-known characters in this whole line-up. The Dreamworks animated film, Rise of the Guardians, was based upon the characters of this series, who are very popular holiday and nursery tale personalities, and their roles in protecting children.

The first picture book in the series is The Man in the Moon. The book tells the story of the life of the Man in the Moon, or MiM, as he is known. He is the very first Guardian of Childhood and he was once a baby that was not always on the moon. This book tells how he came to be on the moon to begin with and what his purpose becomes as a result of what he experiences in his own childhood.

The next book in the series is The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie. This story continues what the first book set up. The Man in the Moon is in need of help. While he is providing light for children while they sleep, he can't always shine as bright as he needs to so the children can sleep safe and sound with nightmares being kept far away. This is the story of how he finds help from Sanderson Mansnoozie, or Sandy, as he is known. If MiM can ever get him to wake up, he may be just the guy to help protect the children as they sleep, becoming the Sandman.

The final picture book in the series is Jack Frost. Jack Frost is a fan favorite in the Rise of the Guardians film, and in this series, he gets a lot more development and somewhat of a different backstory from what I can remember of the film. Jack Frost was previously known as Nightlight and he was featured in the first book, with the Man in the Moon. While fighting villains, Nightlight suffers a fall and ends up becoming Jack Frost, a boy frozen in time, similar to Peter Pan. This book traces his journey to becoming a Guardian of Childhood with his former friend, MiM, as he realizes that he can still have a joyful purpose despite the trials he has faced. 

*I did not include A Day with Wilbur Robinson on this list because it was not featured in the sculptures in Abilene, so I didn't read it to plan for that visit I had. I HAVE read it and I greatly enjoy the adapted animated feature by Disney (Meet the Robinsons). The book is pretty popular on its own and is worth a read, but it just doesn't belong on today's list for what I'm doing, unfortunately. 

Final Thoughts

So these are the books I have selected for the Picture Book Showcase this time. While these are not ALL of William Joyce's works, these are some of the ones you can see come to life within the sculptures present in the city of Abilene, as well as on TV. For me, all of these books have a ✯✯✯✯ star rating. The art featured in them is fabulous, but the books that have the best art out of all of these, in my opinion, is definitely the Guardians of Childhood series. The colors are vivid and the entire look of the stories is incredibly magical. I think a clear distinction between this series and the other books can be seen with even just the covers alone. In the future I'm going to try to get around to reading the chapter books in this series and I will probably revisit Joyce's work a few times and explore other works of his that I haven't experienced yet. I think he is a great author/illustrator to enjoy and share with young readers, and people who just love reading and who can appreciate illustrated works. 

Comment Section Time!
As usual, let me know if you've read any of these books, or which ones you would most like to read. Have you seen any of the television series/movies that were adapted from them? Have you seen the sculptures in Abilene? I'd love to hear all about what you have to say in the comments below! Don't forget that recommendations for future themes/authors/illustrators are very welcome!

See you next post!