Skip to Main Content

The Sandman and the War of Dreams

Book #4 of The Guardians
Illustrated by William Joyce

About The Book

Academy Award winner William Joyce’s Guardians recruit Sanderson ManSnoozy, the sleepy legend also known as the Sandman, to their cause in this fourth chapter book adventure.

When the Man in the Moon brought together the Guardians, he warned them that they would face some terrible evils as they strove to protect the children of earth. But nothing could have prepared them for this: Pitch has disappeared and taken Katherine with him. And now the Guardians are not only down one member, but a young girl is missing.

Fortunately, MiM knows just the man to join the team. Sanderson ManSnoozy—known in most circles as the Sandman—may be sleepy, but he’s also stalwart and clever and has a precocious ability to utilize sand in myriad ways. If the other Guardians can just convince Sandy that good can triumph evil, that good dreams can banish nightmares, they’ll have themselves quite a squad. But if they can’t…they might never see Katherine again.


Sandman and the War of Dreams

The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of

TIME PASSES STRANGELY WHEN you are sleeping. You can close your eyes when it is night, then open them again and see morning. Yet the hours that went by seemed no longer than the drifting journey of a leaf in a soft breeze.

Strange, wondrous, and terrible adventures are the norm in dreams. Uncharted lands come and go. Dream epics play out. Wars are fought and won. Loved ones are lost or found. Entirely different lives are lived as we sleep. And then we awake, with disappointment or relief, as if nothing at all had happened.

But sometimes things do happen.

In the waking world, the Guardians had lost one of their own to a powerful entity known as Mother Nature.

But an odd little man had been sleeping for more days and nights than any calendar could count. The snoozing fellow was the color of golden sand—indeed, he seemed to be made of the stuff. And his unruly hair twirled and twisted as he slept. He rested in the dune-covered center of a tiny star-shaped island that was nearly impossible for humans to find, for it was not originally from the Earth. The island was not connected to anything; no landmass beneath the ocean anchored it in place. As such, it was the only island on our planet that truly floated atop the water. Because of this, it drifted. In June it might be in the Pacific Ocean, and by July it might be off the coast of Madagascar, its whereabouts known only to the Moon and the stars.

Which was fitting, for this island had once been a star. It had been saved by the leader of the Guardians, Tsar Lunar, or as we call him, the “Man in the Moon.” But that was ages ago.

The island, from above

On this most auspicious night, Tsar Lunar called upon the small and harmless-looking fellow who softly snored among the island’s magic sands.

But how should one awaken a man from the past? A man who had traveled oceans of time and space. A steadfast fellow who had piloted the fastest shooting star in the heavens. A hero of ten thousand battles against Pitch, the Nightmare King. This smallish warrior had once been the most valiant granter of wishes the cosmos had ever known. How does one wake a man who has not opened his eyes since the great ancient days of the Golden Age?

As with most things, the answer was simple.

The Man in the Moon sent a moonbeam messenger with a single whispered request: “I wish that you would help. Your powers are needed.”

In an instant the little man’s eyes opened. The centuries of sleep fell away. There he stood, tall as he could: Sanderson Mansnoozie. The Man in the Moon then proceeded to relay his full message. Sanderson Mansnoozie listened intently.

So very much had happened while he had slept.

Pitch had returned and was threatening the galaxies again. But Sanderson Mansnoozie’s long sleep had been most productive. He was now more powerful than he had ever been: He had power over the world of dreams. In fact, every grain of sand on his island now contained a dream—one dream from each night of his nearly endless sleep, and all of them good dreams, strong enough to fight any nightmare.

When the Man in the Moon finished, Sanderson Mansnoozie, with a wave of his hands, brought his island to life. Its sands swirled around him, and the island transformed into a cloud that swept him up from the sea and into the sky.

With moonbeams to guide him, he sailed the golden cloud toward his mission: to aide the Guardians. To save and rescue a girl named Katherine. And to stop Pitch forever.

This “Sandman” was ready to seek out his ancient enemy and oldest friends. He was ready to face whatever dangers lay ahead.

And there were many.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to

The Guardians, Book 4: The Sandman and the War of Dreams

By William Joyce


Discussion Questions

1. What are the characteristics of a Guardian? Compare and contrast the characteristics of the other Guardians to Sandman Mansnoozie. Do you think Sandman has what it takes to be a Guardian?

2. Discuss the encounter between Pitch and his daughter, Mother Nature. How would one describe the relationship between them? For example, when Pitch says with a sneer, “Yes, my daughter, I will not touch her (Katherine),” what does this tell you about Pitch?

3. As a Star Captain, Sandy was honor bound to send a dream powerful enough for the person receiving it to remember it and guide them in their quest to make that dream come true. Have you or anyone you know had a dream that was powerful enough to change their life?

4. What did Lord Pitch do to the Dream Pirates when he caught them? Why did the Dream Pirates consider this treatment a weakness? Was Lord Pitch able to maintain his judgment and composure throughout the battles?

5. What happened to Lord Pitch to turn him from a gentleman of the Golden Age to a ruthless murderer? As a true gallant, humane, and compassionate general, would Lord Pitch execute his murderous sentence to the pirates without a thorough investigation? Did he feel like he conducted one? Do you?

6. Describe Emily Jane as a child in the Golden Age. What horrific scene did she witness during the Dream Pirates’ attack on her home? What characteristics did Emily Jean have that helped her survive this incident? Who was the first to help Emily Jean and how did their relationship evolve?

7. The constellation Typhan was a powerful ally during the Golden Age. What did the Dream Pirates do to him? How was his helping Emily Jane during her time of need beneficial to him?

8. As a human child living on the constellation Typhan, where does Emily Jane find the resources needed to survive?

9. What happened on Emily Jane’s sixteenth birthday that sent her into a rage? How did she react? What did Typhan do to Emily Jane? Who rescued Emily Jane and how?

10. As Sandman told the Guardians Pitch’s backstory, the Guardians began to see a side of Pitch they had never known. What did the Guardians learn? Why had Katherine felt pity toward  Pitch?

11. What was inside shooting stars that made them so valuable to the Dream Pirates? What did the Dream Pirates do with the precious cargo?

12. What did Sandman use to make friends with the starfish in the sky? How did this friendship benefit Sandy in his attempt to help Emily Jane?

13. What event happens on the day that Emily Jane learned that Lord Pitch had won the war against the Dream Pirates and that the Golden Age was safe again? How did Sandman help Emily Jane in time to prevent her from becoming a sun?

14. While working with Sandman on granting wishes, Emily Jane learned that all the wishes had a central theme. She says, “I think all wishes are the same really . . . what they are really asking for is happiness.” Do you agree with her? When Sandman asked Emily what she would wish for, what did she say?

15. How did the imprisoned Dream Pirates use Emily Jane’s dreams against Lord Pitch? How did this prevent Sandman from granting Emily Jane’s wish?

16. Discuss the significance of the silver locket Emily Jane gave her father before the battle against the Dream Pirates. When the Dream Pirates escaped from Lord Pitch’s power, what happened to the locket?

17. How had Lord Pitch changed physically since he became the leader of the Dream Pirates?  How had he changed mentally? Pitch said, “This dream you sent killed my soul and made me what I am now!” How did Emily Jane react? If your father said that to you, how would you feel?

18. After experiencing Sandman’s dream, Nightlight touched the sand in Mr. Qwerty’s book. He placed a few grains of sand to his head, and it calmed him and gave him a bit of the “knowing.” He now understood his friends were hurting from the loss of Katherine. How did he use this knowledge to help his friends find a way to save Katherine?

19. Katherine, as a captive, watched in horror as all her stories were torn from her book. Her entire history was taken away by Pitch. Is it possible for someone to steal another person’s story?

20. Tsar Lunar said that there were five relics from the past that were needed to defeat Lord Pitch. The Guardians only had three of the relics. What did the Guardians use to try to create the power necessary to make the village of North’s dream come true? Who was the one who had the knowledge to make the dream come true?

21. Discuss the relationship between Sandy and Emily Jane. What do you make of Emily’s comment to Sandy, “I can stand anyone’s tears but yours”?

22. Discuss the transformation of North’s “New City to the North.” Discuss the dividing of Big Root, how the city was transported, how it landed, and also how North’s dream went from imagination to reality with no one knowing about the changes he had made from the original plan.

23. As North’s village was being built, Ombric realized that North was now more powerful than he. He says, “His pupil was now the master. But that’s how it should be.” Discuss the changing roles of family members as they age. For example, how the child becomes the parent and vice versa.

24. There were many obstacles to Katherine’s rescue. Discuss the many ways Sandman used his Guardian’s power to make a successful rescue. Who came to help him? What did moonbeam remember and what background information on Pitch and Nightlight did it provide? How was Nightlight’s dagger made? What was so special about this dagger? What did Sandman and Nightlight think of the rescue of Katherine and why?

25. What is “The Magic Kiss of Good Night”? How does it relate to this story?

26. Nightlight used his power and thus he could not stay a Nightlight. For once he was able to dream. What was the result of Nightlight sleeping?

27. Discuss the theory of nature versus nurture, then compare and contrast Emily Jane and Katherine.

28. Both Katherine and Emily Jane have experienced the feeling of being abandoned. How did they cope with their situation? Did one have a better outcome from her experience than the other?

29. Discuss the importance of friendship in this book. What exactly is friendship? Does friendship just happen or is it a gradual process? Were the Guardians all friends immediately or did it take them a while to appreciate one another?

30. While taming a wild star, Sandman was patient, and in time, it learned to trust him. Sandman said, “A friend is like a savior to one so angry and lost.” What does he mean?

31. Emily Jane feared her father had changed so much for the worse that he would not be able to be saved. Is it possible for someone to be saved? How would one attempt to help someone become a better person? Is there hope for Lord Pitch?


1. Research dreams in the library or on the Internet. What are they? Describe the different types of dreams. What are nightmares?

2. Sandman’s island has special properties. What are they? Compare and contrast Sandman’s island to a real island on the earth.

3. The importance of friendship is a strong theme in this story. Make a list of the different friendships in this story. Choose one of these friendships and write a letter from the point of view of one of the friends to the other explaining why their friendship means so much to him/her.

4. Love versus Hate is another theme in this story. Compile a list of events in the book that signify love and compile another list that signify hate. Compare the two lists. What do you learn from these examples? Are there more examples of love or hate on the lists?

5. Describe the characteristics of Emily Jane and do the same for Lord Pitch. What do these two characters have in common? How are they different? Make a graph showing the differences and the similarities between daughter and father.

6. What are Fearlings? What are they afraid of? Write a short story about a Fearling and his/her fears. What keeps the fear away for him/her?

7. Make dark and white moon cookies. Decorate one side of a cookie with white chocolate and the other side with dark chocolate to resemble the moon. Why is one side of the moon dark and the other light?

8. Using sand, make a model of Sandman Mansnoozie’s island. Refer to the illustrations and the written description in the book for assistance in making the island.

9. North had chosen the North Pole for his village. Bunnymund remembered magnetizing the North Pole. Research what makes the North Pole magnetized. Use magnets to help demonstrate what happens when something is magnetized.

10. What is a lullaby? Why do parents sing them? Write a lullaby that describes Sandman Mansnoozie and his abilities to keep nightmares away. Sing the song to your friends.



Guide prepared by Lynn Dobson, librarian at East Brookfield Elementary School, East Brookfield, MA.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.


About The Author

photograph (c) Tony Reans

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians series, Dinosaur Bob series, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and see upcoming work on Instagram.

About The Illustrator

photograph (c) Tony Reans

William Joyce does a lot of stuff but children’s books are his true bailiwick (The Guardians series, Dinosaur Bob series, George Shrinks, and the #1 New York Times bestselling The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, which is also his Academy Award–winning short film, to name a few). He lives in Shreveport, Louisiana. Talk to William Joyce and see upcoming work on Instagram.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books (September 4, 2018)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781442430556
  • Grades: 2 - 6
  • Ages: 7 - 11
  • Lexile ® 810L The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®

Browse Related Books

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: William Joyce

More books in this series: The Guardians