Monday, June 6, 2011

The Outcast

Published by Scholastic Press

The Guardians of Ga'Hoole Series is about owls. Lasky was fascinated by owls and did so much research in preparation for a non-fiction book about owls. However, she discovered they were hard to photograph so she took her owl knowledge and wrote a fiction series for kids. In the Ga'Hoole series, we follow the adventures of Soren, a spotted owl who is kidnapped at an early age and learns to survive and thrive with the help of some very different friends.

I have read the whole series but decided to focus on The Outcast, which is primarily a story about Soren's nephew, Nyroc. All the books highlight a certain coming of age of a young owl and this is no exception. Nyroc's father and mother are two very evil owls but Nyroc rejects their life of hatred and runs away, becoming an outcast. Despite his upbringing and the distrust of most of owl kind (he looks like is mother, a truly evil owl), Nyroc has a series of adventures that lead him to his destiny. On the way he has many teachers and makes several friends including a wolf.

The whole of the book is all about good overcoming evil despite the odds. I like how the book gives you a sense of what life as an owl is like while telling a good story. You get to know the characters and get a good insight of how to solve moral dilemmas, when it is important to sacrifice self for others as well as how to be a true friend.

In terms of my faith, I especially like the motto of the owls of Ga'Hoole “whose only purpose is to make strong the weak, mend the broken, vanquish the proud, and make powerless those who abuse the frail” (from the faceplate page of many of the books). This motto contains echoes of Jesus' ministry, especially when he reads from Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth (see Luke's gospel). I really notice the idea of strengthening those without power. As Paul says, in my weakness, he is made strong. In this series, weakness can become a way for good to be strong.

I also see the faith echo of a boy who grew up in a troubled if not downright evil home, yet manages to escape the obvious outcome and to make something of himself. However, he is not a self-made owl. He has help from other creatures, the spirits of the dead and the Big Spirit or God figure which they call Ga. This story reminds me that we can all blame our parents for all that has gone wrong in our lives, or we can break free and accept the help of the Holy Spirit to overcome evil and fulfill God's will in our lives.

I recommend this series for young people. However, if you only want to try out one or two books, The Outcast may be a good starting point.
Happy reading!


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