Books by William Joyce

OLLIE'S ODYSSEY by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 12, 2016

"Velveteen Rabbit and Toy Story meet Phantom of the Opera. For better or worse. (Fantasy. 10-13)"
A cloth "teddy rabbit" and his beloved boy rescue one another from a toy clown gone bad. Read full book review >
JACK FROST by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

"As ever, the force of nostalgia is strong; the force of narrative, not so much. (Picture book. 6-8)"
The tale of the only Guardian of Childhood to be a child himself turns out to be hinged on battles and transformations. Read full book review >
BILLY'S BOOGER by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 2, 2015

"A zippy piece for readers who share Billy's tastes. (Picture book. 5-8)"
A boy funnels enthusiasm for monster movies, outer space, and snot into making a picture book for a school contest. Read full book review >
A BEAN, A STALK AND A BOY NAMED JACK by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 7, 2014

"Engrossing illustrations and quirky humor, hitched to Joyce's renown, will earn this its audience. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Moonbot Studios collaborators Joyce and Callicutt royally fracture the familiar folk tale in this high-concept romp. Read full book review >
THE NUMBERLYS by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 27, 2014

"Neither the picture-book medium nor the Numberlys app is as well-served as each deserves. (Picture book. 4-7)"
A successful app makes a transition to print. Read full book review >
THE MISCHIEVIANS by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 22, 2013

"Successfully tapping into the human need to find explanations for all-too-common annoyances, this book charms with its intricacy. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A guide to the elusive creatures responsible for everyday ills offers kids the ultimate book of excuses. Read full book review >
THE SANDMAN by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 2, 2012

"The art makes a bigger impression than the story, but the overall tone is appropriately dreamy, and as for that creeping nightmare: 'you know it's not real.' (Picture book. 5-9) "
At the behest of the Man in the Moon, shooting-star captain Sanderson Mansnoozie takes on a new responsibility—guarding Earth's children from the evil Pitch and his Dream Pirates. Read full book review >
THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 12, 2012

"As triumphant in book form as in animated and interactive ones. (Picture book. 5-10) "
Ironically, this book in praise of books first appeared as a much-praised iPad app and Academy Award-winning animated short film. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 21, 2012

"You could cut the preciousness with a knife. Next up: Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy armies. (Fantasy. 9-11) "
A long-eared guardian with a corps of fierce, chocolate warriors helps to rescue the kidnapped children of Santoff Claussen village in this sequel to Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King (2011). Read full book review >
ADVENTURE
Released: Oct. 4, 2011

"A quick read, with plenty of rococo weapons, characters and creatures (notably reindeer). (Fantasy. 9-11)"
Streaks of preciousness mar, or at least mark, an "origins" tale framed as a monumental struggle between the King of Nightmares and a Cossack bandit plainly destined for a later career bringing gifts to children on Christmas Eve. Read full book review >
THE MAN IN THE MOON by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 6, 2011

"Here's hoping that future installments in this ambitious series will spend less time on back story and more on story line. (Picture book. 5-9)"
A visual feast cannot compensate for lackluster plotting in this first installment of a new mega-series that involves picture books, chapter books and (of course) a movie. Read full book review >
THE FANTASTIC FLYING BOOKS OF MR. MORRIS LESSMORE by MoonBot Studios
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 26, 2011

"The story of Morris Lessmore and his beloved books ends with an unexpected emotional punch, a satisfying, lovely finish for an altogether winning app. (iPad storybook app. 4-12)"
A poignant, potent ode to books (the paper kind) that combines top-notch animation, just the right amount of interactivity and a tear-jerking story. Read full book review >
BIG TIME OLIE by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

Angry that he's not growing up fast enough, little Olie has a "big and really bad idea." But the button he pushes on the household "shrink-and-grow-a-lator" turns out to be the wrong one, and suddenly he's the size of one of his kid sister Zowie's toys. So he tries again, and this time swells up so huge that he bonks his head on the moon and burns his bottom on the sun. Olie may sound a bit precious—"I'm a little bit bigger / not a little bit smaller. / I'm a little bit taller— / I'm growing Rolie up!"—but his fourth outing, set in a digitally created alien world of rubber spheres and gleaming plastic, all in saturated hues, features Joyce's (Sleepy Time Olie, 2001, etc.) trademark blend of the offbeat and the familiar. In the end, a chastened Olie returns to normal, with parental help, and settles down in a bed that's "just big enough . . . for now." Like Olie's previous appearances, in print and on TV, the episode is neatly cut and dried, but Olie's frustrated reaction to being told that he's too small for this, but too big to do that any more, will find an understanding corps of young readers. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
SLEEPY TIME OLIE by William Joyce
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: Oct. 1, 2001

Rolie Polie Olie is a robot on a roll with sequels, toddler stories in board format, toys, and his own Disney TV show. (Will he roll right on to the big screen next?) In this bedtime story about the Rolie Polie family, Joyce (Snowy Rolie, 2000, etc.) introduces Olie's grandpa, Pappy, who is feeling his age after arriving in a broken-down, depressed state due to a bump on his head. Olie mixes up some humorous ingredients to create a bubble ray gun "to help old Pappy ungrow up," a fanciful concept that will take some explaining to preschoolers, as will references to Elvis, a funny bone and a pelvis bone, and a whirling dervish. Joyce's weirdly wacky, round-headed robots are as appealing as ever, but some of his rhymes are more mechanical than magical. Almost every page has a different rhyme scheme, which causes the reader to struggle a little on the first reading, not knowing just which syllables should be accented to make the new meter fall into place. Rolie Polie Olie fans won't care about any of this, however, as Joyce's inventive ideas, rollicking rhymes, and readily recognizable, Rolie-Polie-round illustration style add up to a winning format with proven success. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
SNOWIE ROLIE by William Joyce
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 31, 2000

Joyce makes a foray into Polar Express territory with this flaky follow-up to Rolie Polie Olie (1999). When the sun blows a bulb, Rolie and little sister Zowie take advantage of the ensuing snowfall to build Mr. Snowie, a carrot-nosed new friend. Thanks to prompt Solar servicing, though, the heat soon comes back, so to keep Mr. Snowie from suffering a meltdown, all rocket off to Chillsville for snowdrop soup, icicle cake, "sky-high snowball pie," and a "chilly cha-cha" with a chorus line of Mr. Snowie lookalikes. Catching a ride home on Santa's sleigh, which resembles a retro model Star Wars pod racer, Rolie and Zowie find a snow globe left for them, a memento both of their friend and of a day "happy, sad, and everything in between." Seemingly constructed from robot parts and gumballs, Olie and buddies pose in scenes that look like set-piece dioramas, all glossy, rounded shapes and sharp shadows. Unlike its predecessor, the text is prose, and less sprightly—but the story line is strong and witty enough to hold its own with the quirky, heavily worked visual concept. (Picture book. 6-8)Read full book review >
ROLIE POLIE OLIE by William Joyce
Released: Oct. 31, 1999

PLB 0-06-027164-7 Joyce (The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, 1996, etc.) plays with circles, curls, and curves the way a writer plays with language, creating a visually dazzling story about the everyday capers of a family of round Rolie Polies. Rolie Polie Olie is a toy of a boy, an electro-comic character from a futuristic, alien planet "way up high in the Rolie Polie sky." In the morning he rolls out of bed, brushes his teeth, and recharges his head. At breakfast he dances the Rolie Polie Rumba dance in underpants, then rides aboard the hip-hop mop to wash his teapot house from tip to top. With a rhyme that would be strained in less sure hands, Joyce takes Olie through a hip-hip-hooray day of play and into bedtime, landing Olie in "a bunch of trouble" until he is "Rolie Polie sad" and misses the nightly kiss on his Rolie Polie head. Computer-generated, digitized backgrounds lend an SF atmosphere to every scene, while the flamboyant colors work in concert to create—appropriately, given the character's origins—an effect of suspended animation. An eccentric blend of the cinematic and familial that is coming to be known as vintage Joyce. (Picture book. 2-7) Read full book review >
THE LEAF MEN AND THE BRAVE GOOD BUGS by William Joyce
ANIMALS
Released: Sept. 30, 1996

As an old lady lies abed and her garden fails with her, a doughty band of doodlebugs—`` `Tiny of body but brave of heart, we will finish what we start!' ''—climbs the tallest tree in search of the elusive Leaf Men, hoping they can set things right. Indeed they can: Appearing just in time for a short but sharp battle in which the evil Spider Queen is slain, the Leaf Men, ``gardeners of a grand and elfin sort,'' doctor all the wilted foliage, then bring the old woman back from the brink by presenting her with a toy lost in the garden long ago. A squad of lilliputian Jolly Green Giants, the emerald Leaf Men cut robust, heroic figures, hands on hips, long tendrils curling gracefully from their bald pates; the Spider Queen and her twiggy cohorts emit a suitably malicious air. Joyce (Santa Calls, 1993, etc.) places the action in a jungle of looming vegetation lit by the smiling moon that sails over nearly every scene. Small scale, grand adventure. (Picture book. 7-9) Read full book review >
SANTA CALLS by William Joyce
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 30, 1993

Joyce's version of a ride on the Polar Express is more style than substance. Just before Christmas, 1908, dashing boy-inventor Art Atchinson Ainsworth; his best friend, Comanche brave Spaulding Littlefeets; and his scorned little sister Esther receive an invitation (complete with futuristic flying machine) to visit Santa. Their visit is climaxed by Esther's dramatic rescue from the Dark Elves and their evil Queen. ``But why did you call for us?'' Art wants to know. Santa answers, ``Some secrets are best left unsolved.'' Art never finds out, but readers do, in two appended letters from Esther (``Dear Santa...what I really wish for is for my brother Art to be my friend'') and Santa (``I'm glad our little adventure did the trick''). Readers may be disappointed to find so unsurprising a gift in such glorious wrapping, but the huge illustrations, rendered with Joyce's usual cinematic, art-deco sensibility, burst with exuberant crowds and visual fanfares, melodramatic poses and clever jokes. Figures have the gloss and solidity of polished wooden models: Art looks like Will Rogers, and Santa like a benevolent tycoon, while the skies over Ozlike Toyland are filled with searchlights and fanciful balloons. Read quickly; linger over the art. (Picture book. 7+) Read full book review >
BENTLY AND EGG by William Joyce
ANIMALS
Released: Feb. 28, 1992

Bently, an artistic frog, and Kack Kack, a recently widowed duck, are close friends: she takes care of his laundry and admires his drawings; he agrees to watch over her egg when she wants to visit her sister's new ducklings. Feeling lonely (the egg ``looked so blank''), Bently whiles away the time by painting it—a lucky thing, it turns out, since the decorations divert a passing boy from smashing it. But not from eggnapping. Bently follows, and a picaresque series of adventures ensues, happily concluded when he gets the egg safely home just in time for it to hatch and be named in his honor. Joyce's whimsical, sophisticated narrative includes some unabashed contrivances, especially a balloon that just happens to turn up to transport Bently and his fragile charge. Of most interest are the lucidly composed illustrations, in the tender hues of swampland in a morning mist; Bently is slim and elegant, the duck motherly and rotund, with a rather vacant look. This will never take the place of Dr. Seuss's Horton, but Bently's discovery that watching over the egg makes him care about it provides an interesting contrast to the elephant's more single- minded loyalty. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >