In my search for popular children’s books I came across the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series. Currently, it appears there are fifteen books and a September 24, 2010 movie scheduled to be released.
The author, Kathy Lasky has written more than fifty fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. She is quoted as saying, “I want young readers to come away with a sense of joy for life. I want to draw to them into a world where they’re really going to connect with these characters.”
For the most part she achieves this with The Capture.
A young Barn Owl named Soren finds himself falling from the warm nest of his parents only to land at the bottom of the tree. Unfortunately for Soren, his parents were out hunting for food. Only his little sister, unhelpful (& deceiving) brother, and blind snake-servant remained.
Soren is captured by an Owl patrol and taken to St. Aegolius’ Academy for Orphaned Owls. It did not matter that Soren wasn’t really an orphan because, as he discovers, the Academy’s true aim is to conquer the Owl kingdoms. Soren learns of the true horrors of Moon Blinking—which destroys an Owl’s free will—hard labor, punishment for asking questions, and the terror of Owls who yield to Vampire Bats.
With the help of his Elf Owl friend named Gylfie—and a few un-blinked Owls at the Academy—Soren escapes. They are joined by a male Great Grey Owl named Twilight, who helps both Soren and Gylfie to find their homes, but unfortunately they have been deserted. Now a new and greater adventure lies ahead.
There is a slight Redwall‘ish feeling to this tale; if you like one you may like the other. For some odd reason newly born Owls have an instant British vocabulary, but overall it is a cute and charming adventure. Personally, I got bored with it. My attention kept dropping off and the events seemed to drag on longer than I would have liked. However, I think the right audience would love it. Particularly those who are between 6 to 12 (six to twelve) years old.
Things to consider:
As mentioned under my thoughts, I think this is appropriate for children between six and twelve, and for both girls and boys. Note that any youth beyond tweens runs the risk of becoming bored with it. However, I do want to caution that there are a few disturbing situations that may be considered frightful to some children. Off the top of my head these are: vampire bats drinking the blood of willing Owls, a few violent deaths, and a horrific act of Cannibalism. Overall this is a clean story, and is free from any sexual references or profanity.
Opportunities for discussion:
The theme of brainwashing is fairly dominant here; such as moon blinking and the restriction of asking questions. Yet belief is also mentioned (in a positive way) when talking about the legends of Ga’Hoole. It is easy for the world to relate Christianity to brainwashing, and granted in some cases there are brainwashed Christians, however this is not the intended path of believers. Brainwashing comes from conforming without testing or questioning, but it is the job of the believer to understand where he or she stands. We believe in individuality, not conformity. We all have unique gifts, personalities, and ways of looking at things. This is why the Bible talks about people being a different part of the same body. A discussion topic for your child would be to ask them what they believe makes them unique. Ask them what beliefs they hold onto, and then ask them if there are any questions they would like to share with you. Then be willing to listen and respond (non-condescendingly.)