Book ReviewSpirit Animals: Wild Born

Reviewer's Rating: 
I never forget a book, but in this case I'll make an exception.
Scholastic Inc. 2013

BOOK ONE: SPIRIT ANIMALS: WILD BORN. Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts - a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children - and the world - have been changed forever.

Enter the world of Erdas, where every child who comes of age must discover if they have a spirit animal, a rare bond between human and beast that bestows great powers to both. A dark force has risen from distant and long-forgotten lands, and has begun an onslaught that will ravage the world. Now the fate of Erdas has fallen on the shoulders of four young strangers . . . and on you.

Initially I loved the idea of this book and series - empowering youth with a meaningful spirit animal and being asked to save the world.  Go team!  I love it when normal characters are asked to do something brilliant and strong where they find something special inside of them that rises to the task.

But then my daughter and I read the book and we both decided we wouldn't continue in the series.  Two generation strikes out.  My biggest problem with the novel is that all the children selected by the special animals are age 11 which smacks this series in the Junior Fiction section of our library.  Why is this important?  Had they chosen age 14 or up it would place this series in Young Adult which I feel is a more accurate placement for the type of content it holds.

There is war front and centre with people bleeding and dying in front of one of our characters on the day she receives  her special animal at age 11.  There is a loveable character who dies due to unexpected violence at the end of the novel which is shocking and way beyond what I would want my youngest junior fiction 10 year old daughter exposed to.  As an adult, I can see how both these events are used to motivate our characters or help them make decisions, but again, I will stress a second time - this type of content belongs firmly in Young Adult, not Junior Fiction.

I've made this same standpoint before where I've felt dark content in Junior Fiction goes too far - am I showing my age perhaps that I'd like to think my youngest daughter can choose anything off the Junior Fiction shelves and find a good read appropriate for what she has been exposed to thus far in her ten short years?  For the most part, she could, but not with this book. 

Ironically enough, I purchased this book at her school's book fair.  There were other books we bypassed that had stickers on them, "Mature Read" and I can't help but think this same book should have had that sticker as well alerting parents to be more cautious and ready for conversation when the final chapter is finished.

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