Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Legends of the Guardians of the Protectors of the Knights of Gahoolyhillyhan

I had THE BEST NAP EVER today, you guys.  Wanna know what made it THE BEST NAP EVER?

It ended with my children standing next to me, saying quietly (QUIETLY, for once in their lives!), "Wake up, Mama, we made dinner."

And they really did, bless their peaked little heads.  Added noodles, bacon, and more sauce to last night's leftover meat, made a salad out of lettuce and grapes, set the table and got everyone ice water.  It was fantastic.  I'm not sure if I'm more amazed that they thought to include a salad, or that the two of them, unsupervised, came up with and completed a project without coming to blows.  I would have eaten it no matter what, but it was actually pretty tasty.

It was, of course, a set-up, but that's okay.  I'd declared today a no-screens day, because that's the kind of thing benevolent dictators do from time to time, just to remind the peasants who's in charge, and they were feeding me and getting along in order to butter me up for a family movie night.  Why would I object to a family movie night?  Well, because when they wait for ME to get around to making dinner, we usually eat and then start bedtime.  By wresting dinner hour control away from me, they managed to get us done in time to actually start a movie together.

Last week at the library we'd checked out Legends of the Guardians, based on Kathryn Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.  I haven't read any of the books, although I know they are/were quite popular.  I feel like there's a certain age at which anthropomorphic animals are irresistible, but that window is long shut for me.  Reepicheep and the Beavers, yes.  Ratty and Mole, of course. Hazel and Fiver, all right.  Mrs. Frisby, sure.  Bianca and Bernard, terrific.  Really, if Garth Williams illustrated it, I loved it.  But I had aged out by the time of Redwall, thought the Warriors series looked like drivel, and wasn't even really paying attention by the time the ponderously named Ga'Hoole series came out.

So we watched it, all four of us, and I can't imagine that there are many other movies that would remind one of Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and The Lion King.  It's visually glorious, with soaring owls in sunset flight and settings that were strongly reminiscent of Mordor and Rivendell.  The battle scenes have those slowed-down, up-close action shots.  And there's a couple of goofy side-kicks to offer comic relief.

My daughter, aged ten, was absolutely entranced.  "You know what we're going to be playing tomorrow," she informed her brother firmly.  "I wish I had a poster of Soren flying" she sighed to me.  She was already a Hedwig fan; now her love for heroic owls has grown even larger.

I, of course, am hoping to leverage this into reading the books.  It was pretty obvious at various points in the movie that things had been condensed, and of course, the saga has just begun.  It can be hard for readers who lack confidence and practice to transition from sweeping visuals and musical cues to reading the words and constructing the story internally.  But she is so smitten that I'm hoping she'll power through.

And I am reminded once again that one of the perks of parenthood is discovering new children's literature.  Specifically, discovering it with your kids.  Had I read the book or seen the movie, I doubt it would have done much for me, but seeing her joy and excitement reminds me of what the discovery of a story like this can mean to a child.

Some questions for you!

  • Do you (or would you) let your kids see the movie before reading the book?
  • What talking-animals books did you love as a kid?
  • How do you feel about talking-animals books now?  
  • Have you ever been brought into a fandom by the enthusiasm of someone much younger than you?  I'm thinking also of Harry Potter, which I discovered through my then-tween niece.  


  1. It’s awesome that your kids made dinner, even if they had ulterior motives. I loved Black Beauty and Jack London’s animal books when I was a kid, but I can’t imagine that animal-centered fiction books would hold my attention now.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Oooh, I loved Call of the Wild. I suspect I read an abridged version of Black Beauty though. Unless it's really more of a novella? I know the version we had was heavily illustrated.

  2. This movie made my youngest really want to read the books. He's been listening to the audiobooks from our library lately and loving them!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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