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The Sandman: The Guardians of Childhood

Imaginative tale of sleepy hero who fights kids' nightmares.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The Sandman is pure fantasy, but does include a few astronomical references, including the phase of the moon, a shooting star, a black hole, and the constellation Orion.

Positive messages

The Sandman shows what's it's like to care about something bigger than yourself, to put others before your yourself, and to overcome your fear to help and protect others. 

Positive role models

Sandy is a sleepy, lovable hero who fights Pitch, the King of the Nightmares, a scary villain who is "sworn to destroy sweet dreams and shooting stars" and roams the night "in search of sleeping children to hazard." Sandy is willing to grant any wish -- especially from the Man in the Moon -- and conquers his own fear to help the children of Earth. 

Violence & scariness

Sandy is attacked by Pitch, the King of the Nightmares, and his menacing, scary-looking Dream Pirates. But as Sandy's fear vanishes, so do the nightmares. Sandy grabs each one and says, "You are not real. You are not true. You are nothing," and they turn to harmless Dreamsand. 

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Sandman is the second picture book in William Joyce's The Guardians of Childhood series. Like The Man and the Moon, which preceeds it, The Sandman invents a back story to a mythical childhood character. Here readers find out who the Sandman is --Sanderson Mansnoozie, known as Sandy -- and what role he plays in making sure kids get a restful, nightmare-free sleep each night. There's a scary villain, Pitch, the King of Nightmares, attended by menacing Dream Pirates. But Sandy overcomes his own fears to defeat them and turn the nightmares into Dreamsand.  

Kids say

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What's the story?

The Man in the Moon watches over the children on Earth, providing a giant night-light to keep kids safe from nightmares as they sleep. But he feels he needs a helper "when the moon is less than full and bright," including on foggy or cloudy nights. So he asks Sanderson Mansnoozie, or Sandy, once the pilot of a shooting star on which children would wish, to help him. Sandy must overcome his own fear to defeat Pitch, the Nightmare King, and his Dream Pirates.

Is it any good?


The story and cosmology are a bit complex but should still be captivating as a read-aloud for little ones, especially at bedtime. The luminous illustrations in THE SANDMAN are spectacular and fit the fantastical nature of this inventive story set in the heavens among planets, shooting stars, constellations, and creatures from "the ocean of the sky"-- mermaids, sea turtles, a seahorse steed, and talking seashells. The main character, short, sleepy, roly-poly Sandy, is cute and appealing.  

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about nightmares and where kids think they come from. Do you wish you could banish nightmares? 

  • What do you think of the art in The Sandman? How does it help tell the story? 

  • If you read The Man in the Moon, how do you think The Sandman compares? 

Book details

Author:William Joyce
Illustrator:William Joyce
Genre:Picture Book
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:October 2, 2012
Number of pages:48
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 8
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of The Sandman: The Guardians of Childhood was written by

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Parent of a 4 year old Written byLucie Pevensie December 28, 2012

Absolutely beautiful

Beautiful story, beautifully illustrated. It is magical. Some lovely messages about coping with fears. I just loved this book for my 4 1/2 year old.
What other families should know
Educational value