Guardians of Ga'Hoole, Book One: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky;
Scholastic Inc.: New York, 2003; $4.99
I was excited when I opened the book Guardians of Ga'Hoole, The Capture, by Kathryn Lasky. I could tell it would be a good book once I read the cover. Initially, it appealed to my love of animals and nature. Once I started reading it, however, I was so interested in the story that I was fascinated by this adventurous world of St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, also known as St. Aggies.
This book is about a young barn owl named Soren. He and his friends are captured and taken to an evil academy where they hypnotize young owls and force them to join their evil army bent on destroying all owl kingdoms. Soren and his friend Gylfie escape the hypnotism by telling stories of the Great Ga'Hoole Kingdom. It forces them to stay awake so they are unable to fall asleep during a full moon, also known as moon blinking. That's just the beginning of their adventures, for they escape and meet up with two other owls, Twilight and Digger. Together, they are in search of the Great Ga'Hoole Tree, which they hope will be able to stop the evil academy of St. Aggies.
The author was very clever, and made a map of the entire owl world. This map is illustrated on the inside cover of the book and includes at least ten different areas, such as Forest Kingdom of Tyto (where Soren is from), St. Aegolius Canyons, and the Island of the Great Ga'Hoole Tree. On the outer edges of the map, there is even an area called Beyond the Beyond. I enjoy reading maps, and this made the book very appealing to me.
I had read that the author spent several years doing extensive research about owls, in order to write a nonfiction book. She decided in the end to write a fantasy about owls, but to include as much information as she could about their natural history. This is very obvious when you get to the end of the book and find a type of glossary naming all of the characters in the story, their origin, and the type of animal they are. It also includes the scientific name for each animal. I was surprised that there were so many different types of owls. Not only was it a learning experience, it made the book seem much more realistic.
The story definitely drew me into its fantasy world. I felt at times as if I was Soren. Sometimes I felt eager, sometimes I felt scared, sometimes victorious. I didn't want to put the book down even to eat or sleep. It was definitely a page-turner with a good-versus-evil theme, which is a characteristic found in most of my favorite stories.
Guardians of Ga'Hoole, The Capture, by Kathryn Lasky, is definitely a book I would recommend to my friends. In fact, I can't wait to read the next book in the series.