This is book five in the Spirit Animals Series. If you do not already have this series, this is probably not a good place to start. The story of four children and their spirit animals, who are trying to collect magical talismans in order to protect their world, continues in this book.
In this book the four travel to a tropical isle to collect another talisman and learn that there is a spy in their midst. Because of this, they begin to distrust each other. The Reptile King and his followers manage to take one of the four young heroes in a most unusual turn of events. While the story of their quest obviously will be continued, some of the puzzle is solved by the end of the book.
The presentation of this series is most unusual in that several different authors have contributed to its publication. Book one, was written by Brandon Mull, Book two by Maggie Stiefvater, Book three by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, Book four by Shannon Hale and now by Book five by Tui T. Sutherland, who has already been a part of the Erin Hunter team in the Seeker series.
Another unique aspect of this book is that the reader is invited to discover their own “spirit animal” and play online with others at http://www.scholastic.com/spiritanimals. This aspect of the series is a little troubling to me as a Christian because it gets young readers to open themselves up to the idea of having a spirit helper or guide. I am more than a little troubled with the amount of paranormal materials being offered to young people in the form of book, T.V. shows and movies. Pair that with the retelling of Biblical stories which present major Biblical characters as a sort of action hero helped by fictitious beings, and it begins to feel as if there is a movement to discredit Judeo/Christian teachings, or worse yet, an attempt to get young people to accept spirit forces into their lives.
I am not in favor of massive censorship of materials, and I am not a paranoid Christian who sees all fantasy and science fiction as a plot to indoctrinate our children with Satanic material, but I think Christians need to be aware of the fact that there are others who want to see Christianity weakened or defeated. I believe it is the parent’s responsibility to know what his/her child is reading or watching and to know the material well enough to be able to discuss with them how those books or movies – whether fact or fiction – differ from their religious beliefs. Forbidding the reading of the materials only causes curiosity in the mind of the child. Discussion is the best approach.
If you have begun this series for your elementary library collection, you will want to purchase this one to continue your collection. I’m sure there will be readers who will appreciate its addition.