by Monica, age 15
The Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky is a fifteen-book series about a magical world of owls focusing Tyto Alba Barn Owl called Soren. The first book, The Capture begins in Soren’s nest in the Forest Kingdom of Tyto when he is just a hatchling. Through a series of unfortunate events, Soren finds himself at St. Aegolious’s Academy for Orphaned Owlets or St. Aggies as he comes to know it.
Here Soren meets and befriends a little Elf Owl named Gylfie from the Desert Kingdom of Kuneer. Together Soren and Gylfie survive the horrors of St Aggies and plan to make their escape. The following two books, The Journey and The Rescue continue to tell of Soren and Gylfie’s adventures as well as introducing the other two owls – Twilight, a Great Gray Owl from no particular kingdom; and Digger, a Burrowing Owl from the Desert Kingdom of Kuneer – that go to make up their small band.
The first four books can actually be bought in a lovely boxed set, which would make a lovely gift.
I recommend these books for older children of age eleven and over, and even for teens, because there are some moments in the books which I wouldn’t have liked to read when I was younger. For example, baby owls are tortured and brainwashed. Soren has his wings plucked for asking a question, leaving a sticky sheen of blood. Also, the theme is really for older children and it has depth that be misunderstood or missed by younger people.
The first three books in the series – The Capture, The Rescue, and The Journey– have recently been made into a movie entitled The Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. Although I really loved the movie the books are even better. The director of the film said he made the film for kids, but everyone in my family thinks it’s too scary for little kids and we saw one little guy being taken out, crying, after a scary bit of the story.
Kathryn Lasky, who also wrote The Night Journey and Broken Song, is an excellent writer with recurring themes of honour, courage, justice and truth. She has a fascination with owls and has done detailed research into the different species and their habits, the information she attained in these researches she has slipped into her stories.
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