Tuesday 26 October 2010

The Legends of the Owls of Ga’Hoole

The Legends of the Owls of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky (Scholastic Inc) 
PB RRP $29.99 
Recommended for 8+ years.
ISBN 9780545281959
Reviewed by Dawn Meredith

Come, fly on a starlit, velvet night sky with Barn Owl Soren, his best friend and Elf Owl, Gylfie and their band of orphaned owls. Sour above hardship and betrayal on the winds of friendship and loyalty with these brave youngsters as they escape the sinister Saint Aegolius Academy for orphaned owls and battle their way to the sacred Ga’Hoole tree known only to them in legend.

In book one, The Capture, Soren finds himself ripped away from his parents and little sister when his jealous elder brother kicks him out of the nest, high in a fir tree. Dumped unceremoniously in the craggy, windswept crevices of ‘Saint Aggie’s’ Academy, Soren soon realises that an evil force controls the swarms of young owlets taken from their families, brainwashing them through a process known as Moon Blinking, for purposes yet unknown. Soren and Gylfie figure a way to bypass the process and eventually escape the academy, not knowing whether their families know their fate or if they shall ever see them again. Soren and Gylfie meet two more orphaned friends on their way to the great tree of Ga’Hoole, Digger, a Burrowing Owl, Twilight, a Great Grey Owl. In a wonderful turn of luck, Soren is reunited with Mrs Plithiver, a blind ‘nest maid’ snake who attended his family in the old days.

In book two, The Journey, Soren and Gylfie travel with their companions to the great Tree of Ga’Hoole, on a tiny island in the Sea of Hoolemere. After battling murderous crows (excuse the pun!), killing a vicious bobcat, and witnessing the dying moments of a blacksmith Barred Owl in a cave, they come upon The Mirror Lakes, where they are enchanted and transfixed, where time slows and all is happiness and eternal summer. Breaking free of this influence, Soren leads his band of followers to the Ice Narrows, where a family of puffins take them in, just before an ice storm hits. The warm thermals arrive and Soren and company continue their journey to The Great Tree of Ga’Hoole, where they are treated to a warm reception. Disappointed that their parents are not at the Great Tree, the group begin their training as guardians of Ga’Hoole in the various chaws or groups such as weather, search and rescue, fire and Ga’Hoolology. Soren dreams of beng reunited with his little sister, Eglantine, but when she is brought in, with many other distraught owlets, she is not the same owl he remembers.

In book three, The Rescue, Soren and the gang continue their training and are sent on missions. Their favourite teacher, or ryb, as they are called, goes missing and Soren is convinced evil lurks behind the disappearance. Secretly leaving the Great Tree, the group set out to find Ezylryb and find themselves in the scariest place of all, The Spirit Woods. Here Soren speaks to the spirits of his parents, called scrooms and discovers he has much to learn yet about what happened to his family. Finally, Soren comes face to face with his evil nemesis, Metal Beak, the disfigured Tyto owl, who has become a Hitler-like tyrant, only to discover it is his brother, Kludd,

Being obsessed with owls, their various species and habits, Kathryn Lasky has invented a whole new world to immerse the reader, where first light becomes first black and goodnight becomes goodlight; where feelings and intuition are processed through the gizzard; where owls go to battle wearing metal claws; where each owl has their unique skills and abilities and where other birds who do not yarp up pellets of compacted fur and bones are called ‘wet poopers’. It’s an intriguing world, which makes it difficult to put these books down. In all Lasky wrote fifteen books in the series, first published by Scholastic in 2003, the last being published in 2008. The first three books have been condensed into a film version, currently screening.
Dawn Meredith writes from the Blue Mountains and was awarded a May Gibbs Fellowship in 2010.  www.dawnmeredithauthor,blogspot.com

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