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VOYAThe second book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series picks up where the first book, The Capture (Scholastic, 2003/VOYA December 2003), left off. Having escaped from the horrible St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, Soren and his friend Gylfie team up with Twilight and Digger, two owls also orphaned early in life. All are determined to find the mythical Great Ga'Hoole Tree where they believe they will find a race of warrior owls who will help battle the evil that threatens the owl kingdoms. As they make their way toward the Sea of Hoolemere and their goal, they meet up with Soren's former nurse snake, Mrs. Plithiver, as well as a family of helpful puffins and a Barred Owl of age and wisdom, who with his dying breath warns the young foursome about a force worse than St. Aggie's. They carry this fear within them, even after they locate the Great Ga'Hoole tree, are taken in, and set to various courses of study in the vast school. The rescue of Soren's deeply troubled younger sister caps a book hallmarked by adventure, mystery, and some pretty terrible poetry put forward as owl songs. The world building is excellent, with a few intriguing hints that it might take place on a post-Holocaust Earth, and the characterization is solid. The owls are unique and complex, with conflicting feelings and just the right mix of seriousness and fun. Middle school readers with a taste for animal fantasy and predictable, although interesting plots will appreciate this second installment in the series, and anticipate the third volume that the ending so clearly anticipates. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High,defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Scholastic, 244p., Trade pb. Ages 11 to 15.