From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-At the beginning of this new series, a young Barn Owl named Soren lives peacefully with his family, participating in rituals like the First Meat ceremony, and enjoying legends about the Guardians of Ga'Hoole, knightly owls "who would rise each night into the blackness and perform noble deeds." After he falls from his nest, his idyllic world transforms into one of confusion and danger, as he is captured by evil chick-snatching owls and taken to the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. Soren and his new friend Gylfie work to develop strategies for withstanding "moon blinking" (brainwashing), while secretly striving to learn how to fly. The legends of Ga'Hoole help them to survive, and they are able to escape to find their families and warn the world about the dangers of St. Aegolius. While the owls have human characteristics, such as Soren's determination and Gylfie's creative ideas, their actions and culture reflect Lasky's research into owl behaviors and species. The story's fast pace, menacing bad guys, and flashes of humor make this a good choice for reluctant readers, while the underlying message about the power of legends provides a unifying element and gives strong appeal for fantasy fans.Beth L. Meister, Yeshiva of Central Queens, Flushing, NY
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 5-8. Soren, a barn owl still weeks away from fledging, is knocked from his otherwise loving family's nest by his nasty older brother. He is swooped up from the forest floor by a pair of nefarious owls who hold him--along with many other owlets of diverse species--captive in a kind of owl social reformatory. Lasky portrays an owl world that has more in common with George Orwell than with Brian Jacques, offering readers big questions about human social psychology and politics along with real owl science. Broad themes related to the nature of personal choice, the need for fellowship based on love and trust, and sharing knowledge with one's peers are presented compellingly and with swift grafting to the animal adventure story. Developmentally linked celebrations (such as "First Fur" and "First Meat"), methods devised for brain-washing (including the regimental marching of sleepy owls by moonlight), and the diverse landscapes in which owls makes their homes come to life here as Soren rebels against his captors, makes a friend, and executes the first stage of his planned liberation and family reconciliation. Readers will look forward to upcoming installments. Francisca GoldsmithCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved