Monday, December 20, 2010

The Guardians of Ga’Hoole

The Guardians of Ga'hoole:The Capture , Kathryn Lasky
(Scholastic, 2003), pb., 222 pp.
Ages 8-16

We had heard good things about the movie “Legend of the Guardians”, but we had not yet seen it. Then this week in our local bookstore one of my boys found this book and we realized the movie came from these books. This piqued our interest so we bought the book and read it this week.

In keeping with what we had heard about the movie, the book has good adventure along with themes of nobility, courage, sacrifice, family, honor and freedom. It is not up to Douglas Bond or even Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, but it is a good story with these great themes. It was a lot like some of the stories from the 70’s and 80’s where the bad guys are trying to take over by brainwashing and removing individual thought and freedom.

What I liked most about the story was the place of “the old stories” in it. The main character was taught the legends of old as a “child” and they captured his imagination, even though his brother scoffed at them. Then, it was these stories which gave him hope in his captivity and even enabled him to resist the brainwashing. These stories inspired hope leading to his escape. If you have read much of this blog, you will know that this theme resonates deeply with me! The main character even mentioned learning the Psalms in connection with these old stories (the author is Jewish).

However, I can’t recommend the book without reservation due to its use of language. There were a number of places where there was harsh language between siblings, and a common phrase which was a play off using the Lord’s name in vain. Then, in a good battle scene one of the “good guys”, in his war cry includes these comments: “Then I’m gonna punch you in the gut! Then you’re gonna wind up on your butt! …[and] I’m gonna send you straight to hell.”

The previous parts were primarily immature and below what I want to encourage. However, the comment on sending the enemy to hell trivializes a terrible, serious reality.

So, this is a story with some strengths. In a day when so many stories have very little of value, I really appreciate one with a sense of honor and appreciation of the place of “the deeds of old.” This story does not entirely rise above the current milieu due to its language, however. So, parents be aware. You can choose to use it with your children and edit these portions.


At 8:59 AM, Blogger Hunter Baker said...

Okay, so now I gotta check out this Douglas Bond fellow you seem to like!

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Ray Van Neste said...

Yes, Hunter, I'd really encourage yo to do so! The hyper-link on his name will lead you to my comments on other books of his. The Mr. Pipes series and Crown & Covenant sereis woudl be the places to start in my opinion.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger hopeinbrazil said...

I agree with you about this series. I read it at the insistence of my son and niece, but found the writing was below par and the subject matter (kidnapping, brainwashing, family disloyalty, etc.) a bit strong for children.


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