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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Book Review

This fantasy book is the second in the " Guardians of Ga'hoole" series by Kathryn Lasky and is published by Scholastic, Inc.

The Journey is written for kids ages 8 to 10. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Soren, a young Barn Owl, his three friends — a Great Grey Owl, an Elf Owl and a Burrowing Owl — and a blind snake named Mrs. Plithiver, but often called Mrs. P, search for the Great Ga'Hoole Tree. The owls of Ga'Hoole are rumored to do good deeds. Soren's small band of owls hopes to join this noble order and fight the evil of St. Aegolius, an "orphanage" that steals eggs and young owls and brainwashes them.

As Soren and his friends journey, they are attacked by crows, talk to a dying owl who warns them that there are greater dangers than St. Aegolius, kill a bobcat, are enchanted by the waters of the Mirror Lakes and learn to see the worth of other bird species. In the end, they work together, using their individual talents, to find the island of Ga'Hoole and the famed tree.

Soren's band chooses to live with these noble owls. They enter into training and learn about the different areas or chaws, groupings of owls that do specific jobs, such as taking care of the tree or studying weather patterns. Each owl in Soren's small band is chosen for a different chaw, and Soren struggles with the chaw he is given because of his instructor. He eventually realizes it's a good fit for him.

Throughout the story, Soren fights against his feelings of loneliness and anger over how he was pushed from his parents' nest by his brother and consequently captured and taken to St. Aegolius. He worries about his little sister, Eglantine; he doesn't know if she is dead or alive. In the end, a large group of owlets and young owls are rescued and brought back to the tree. Eglantine is among them, but all the owlets seem to be under a spell. They do not respond to anything until they hear strains of music; only then do Eglantine and the other young owls begin to recover.

Christian Beliefs

The word faith is exclaimed as an encouragement to a group of owls so they will have enough faith in what they are doing to keep going when one of the owls is injured. A book with pictures showing various types of churches fascinates Soren. Barn Owls formerly lived in churches. However, he is told by one of the teachers that Barn Owls don't belong in churches, but he is given no reason. In the Great Ga'Hoole Tree, the songs sung at twilight are called "Evensong." When the young owls are rescued, one comment reflects the form of Jesus' cry on the Cross: "My Tyto, my Tyto, why hast thou forsaken us in our purity?"

Other Belief Systems

Some owls tell Soren and his friends that the Great Ga'Hoole Tree is a legend, not a true location. Glaux is the most ancient order of owls, from whom all owls are said to originate; the name is invoked frequently. Other references include how Glaux is near and has given them gifts.

At the end of the book a group of young owlets are found that only talk and sing about a world full of pure owls, the Tytos. From their words, the Ga'Hoole owls can tell that they consider the Tyto owls as being supreme over all other owls. They also seem to talk about one owl in particular, to whom righteousness belongs. This owl seems to have withdrawn from them, and the young owls plead for his return.

Soren is told that he has the ability to see and understand reality. He does this by being alert to the physical world.

Authority Roles

All of the young owls in Soren's band are either orphaned or have lost their families. Mrs. P is an authority figure. She reproves, commends and offers them guidance. Authority figures are also found in the rybs (teachers) of the Ga'Hoole Tree. While some of the owls find the rybs to be boring or restrictive, they are usually respected and obeyed because of their wisdom and the desire to do what is right by others.

Profanity/Violence

Frequent exclamations of "Great Glaux" or similar phrases are said in this book. The way "Glaux" is said is similar to how the modern world takes the Lord's Name in vain. There are references to cursing and foul words, but no words are given.

Though not graphic, violent actions are mentioned. There are several references to deserts stained with blood and a brief mention of an eye being burned out and blood splattering. Cannibalism is also mentioned, but no details are given; the owls eat both raw and cooked animals.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

There are references to mates preening each other and a discussion of how some owls constantly touch each other. Soren observes that his parents never did this in front of him, but he still assumes they loved each other.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • How do the members of Soren's band care for each other?
  • How has Jesus told us to care for each other?
  • How are these ways of caring similar?

  • What did Soren do that showed compassion for Primrose?

  • What are some ways that you show compassion and care for others who are weaker than you?

  • How does Otulissa speak and act?

  • Are some people and families better than others from birth?
  • Do some people deserve better things than others because of who their families are?
  • Are there people who shouldn't get good things or be treated well because of who their families are?

  • What went wrong in Soren's family?

  • Do you care for your siblings as much as Soren cares for his little sister?
  • What did Soren's brother do to him?
  • What advice do you think Jesus would give you if you were in Soren's situation?

  • What words would you use to describe Twilight?

  • What does he do well? What does he do poorly?
  • When is pride a good quality?
  • When is pride a bad quality?
  • What does the Bible say about pride?

  • What do the owls do every day at the Mirror Lakes?

  • What is foremost in their minds?
  • How does this kind of selfish thinking hurt or help them and their mission?
  • How does Mrs. P get them to leave?

Additional Comments/Notes

Movie Tie-in: Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and the movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In's movie review which covers the first three books in this series.


Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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