Guide them safely from the ways of harm,
Keep happy their hearts, brave their souls, and rosy their cheeks.
We will guard with our lives their hopes and dreams,
For they are all that we have, all that we are, and all that we will ever be."
A series of books by William Joyce (writer and production designer behind Meet the Robinsons, Robots and Rolie Polie Olie), The Guardians of Childhood tells a sweeping tale of the ongoing battle between Pitch, lord of nightmares, and the eponymous guardians, consisting of figures such as the Man in the Moon, Nicolas St. North, the Tooth Fairy, Bunnymund the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, Mother Goose, and Jack Frost.
A film by DreamWorks Animation, Rise of the Guardians, was released in November 2012. Taking place many years after the team's formation in the books, it tells the story of Jack's recruitment to the team.
Books so far (out of a planned 12) include:
- Picture Books
- The Man in the Moon
- The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson ManSnoozy
- Jack Frost
- Nicolas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King
- E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earth's Core!
- Toothiana: Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies
- The Sandman and the War of Dreams
- Jack Frost: The End Becomes The Beginning
Tropes featured in these works include:
- Ancient Artifact: The Golden Age relics.
- Anxiety Dreams: Katherine suffers from these in book 3. Pitch tells her that they are premonitions, which is a lie.
- Argument of Contradictions: In Book 2, North and E. Aster Bunnymund get into one when North complains that Bunnymund talks too much about eggs. The book describes the child Katherine's opinion that they're both behaving like a pair of brats despite being respectively the oldest and wisest creature on Earth and the greatest warrior-wizard of the age. As the argument continues into the next page, she decides to tune them out.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "[Ombric had] helped invent time, gravity, and bouncing balls!"
- Badass Family: Pitch is the Boogeyman. His daughter grew up to be Mother Nature.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Abominable Snowmen are among the allies of the Guardians.
- Break Them by Talking: Pitch attempts this against Katherine in book 3.
- Canon Welding: The last book features the Leaf Men amongst the armies assembled by the Guardians and establishes Santa's headquarters at the North Pole as being a grand city as seen in Santa Calls.
- Cool Ship: The Moon Clipper.
- Christmas Elves: Though they only test the toys. The Yetis do most of the toy construction and heavy lifting.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The source of some of the Guardians magic and power.
- Direct Line to the Author: Joyce uses the story of having found old records of the Man in the Moon hidden away on the land that became his family ranch providing material for him and his staff at Moonbot Studios to work with.
- Distant Finale: Jack Frost: The End Becomes the Beginning is primarily set in 1933, when the Guardians have generally settled into their modern roles.
- Do-Anything Robot: North's Djinni Robot, created to accomplish any possible task in the real world.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Katherine and North share a dream that shows North's future as Santa Claus. In Book 3, Pitch tries to falsely convince Katherine that a nightmare she had was a case of this.
- Eenie, Meenie, Miny Moai: These appear in Book 2 when Katherine and North visit Easter Island. They grow bunny ears.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: The Golden Age relics scattered on Earth.
- Hidden Elf Village: The village of Santoff Clausen, hidden away from the world to keep out thieves desiring riches.
- Punjam Hy Loo in the backstory of Toothiana, which becomes her Tooth Palace when she becomes the last of her kind.
- I Surrender, Suckers: The Guardians pull this in book 3.
- It's Quiet Too Quiet: In the second book when Nightlight is performing guard duties, he's put on edge because everything is "too still."
- The Man in the Moon: The Moon is a broken down space sailing ship. Owned by the noble family of Lunanoff, it was attacked by the Nightmare King Pitch and damaged beyond function in the battle, leaving it in its disguised state as an ordinary moon. The only remaining member of the Lunanoffs, the Man in the Moon is raised to adulthood by the ship's crew of robots and large insects and keeps a watchful eye on the Earth to keep the children safe from Pitch's lingering influence beyond the can he was sealed in as result of the same battle.
- The Power of Friendship: It is said in the ending of Book 2 that the power of friendship is magical indeed and that they had done what good friends should do: save one another.
- Racial Remnant: The Lunar Lamasare the last survivors of one of the Golden Age worlds that Pitch destroyed.
- The Sandman: Having the full name of Sanderson ManSnoozy, he appears in the books as the Guardian of Dreams.
- Scenery Porn: As expected from Joyce's designs.
- Sealed Evil in a Duel: How Nightlight defeated Pitch the first time.
- Space Is an Ocean
- Space Pirates: Several references are made to "Dream Pirates" having caused trouble during the Golden Age and later aligned themselves with Pitch, but no further details on what they are have emerged.
- Speaks Fluent Animal: Animal languages are among the lessons Ombric teaches to the people of Santoff Clausen.
- Spell Book: Ombric owns a collection of spell books which plays a significant role in the plots of the first two books.
- Star Killing: Engaged in by Pitch during his war against the Golden Age.
- Strange-Syntax Speaker: The moonbeam in book 2.
- Taken for Granite: The magical defenses of Santoff Clausen do this to people who try to enter the village with ill intent.
- Thunderbolt Iron: "Starsteel" and "star sand" have the power to confine or dispel Fearlings.
- True Companions: The Guardians are developing this dynamic as the series goes on.
- You're Not My Father: Emily Jane shouts this to Typhan in Book 4 when he tells her "Daughter! Stop!" after she starts using her powers for harm. Pitch is actually her father, but he's become like a surrogate father to her, so it stings badly.