Animal Pictures Archive BiographyWild Born, Spirit Animals Book 1, by Brandon Mull (September 2013), is the first book of a new multi-authored series from Scholastic. When this book arrived in the mail, it's kid-appeal was just bursting out of its cover image--brave, multicultural kids with cool spirit animal companions--and my ten-year-old pounced on it.
In a fantasy world modeled loosely on our own, with equivalents of Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa, some children form mystical bonds with spirit animals, who become their companions for life. These children become Greencloaks, traveling the world to help others safely bond with spirit animals. But this year, four children summon spirit animals that no child before them ever has. They are four of the twelve Great Beasts--mythical beings of legend--the Wolf, the Leopard, the Panda, and the Falcon, who died long ago in battle against two of their kind who had turned rogue.
Now Connor, a shepherd boy from the European equivalent, Abeke, from the African, Meilin, from the Chinese, and Rollan, from the colonial North American, must learn to trust their spirit animals so that they can tap into their powers. The two defeated Great Beasts from long ago are rising again, and war is engulfing the world...
This is primarily an introductory book---we meet the kids and their spirit animals, we get a bit of back story on the past conflict, and we share the protagonists frustration as the Greencloaks withhold information (for no good reason that I can see). Some tension comes from the fact that Abeke has been co-opted by a group that opposes the dominion of the Greencloaks, and the reader, like Abeke, is not sure what side is Right (clue--people with "nice" spirit animals are good, people with snakes and bats and crocodiles, not so much).
The story is propelled forward into a quest adventure when we learn, about halfway through, that each of the 12 Great Beasts has, or had, a talisman of power. Both sides want the talismans, and so the three young protagonists who were co-opted by the Greencloaks set off with their spirit animals, and their Greencloak mentor, to find the Great Ram and procure his talisman. The opposing side, along with Abeke, is (coincidentally) headed to the same place, and they meet and fight, and Abeke realizes that the folks she's with are the bad guys, abruptly the somewhat interesting ambiguity.
So there is indeed, as I had suspected, much kid appeal here. The gradual development of the bonds between the spirit animals and the kids they have chosen, and frustrations the kids experience as they try to make sense of what is going on makes for good reading. The larger plot, with its ancient evil and magical talismans, will seem much more fresh and inventive to the younger reader than to an experienced veteran of fantasy.
There's a pleasing diversity to the main characters, which goes beyond window dressing--the cultural backgrounds of the protagonists have contributed to who they are. My son, who I have trained to approach book covers critically, was happy to see that the African girl not only has the coolest, most actively being used, weapon, but also the most powerful and appealing spirit animal, and this pleased me too. I was a bit disappointed that Brandon Mull fell into the trap of stereotype, though, when describing his alternate North America, as "untamed land controlled mostly be beasts and the Amayan tribes" (page 68), as not only is it wrong to describe pre-contact North America as "untamed" (a lot of New England, for instance, was pretty carefully managed and rather park-like), but lumping together "beasts" and "tribes" is distressing.
Short answer: not one for adult readers, but 8-10 year olds embarking on their exploration of fantasy worlds and quests and companion animals will quite probably enjoy it.
The next book in the series (Hunted, coming January 2014) is written by Maggie Stiefvater...I prefere her writing to Brandon Mulls, so I will await it with interested optimism; my son will await it with unbridled eagerness
he wildlife in India comprises a mix of species of different types of organisms. Apart from a handful of the major farm animals such as cows, buffaloes, goats, poultry,pigs & sheep, India has an amazingly wide variety of animals native to the country. It is home to Tigers, Lions, Leopards, Pythons, Wolves, Foxes, Bears, Crocodiles, Rhinoceroses, Camels, Wild dogs, Monkeys, Snakes, Antelope species, Deer species, varieties of bison and not to mention the mighty Asian elephant. The region's rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in 89 national parks, 18 Bio reserves and 400+ wildlife sanctuaries across the country.India has some of the most biodiverse regions of the world and hosts three of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots – or treasure-houses – that is the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas and Indo- Burma. Since India is home to a number of rare and threatened animal species, wildlife management in the country is essential to preserve these species. According to one study, India along with 17 mega diverse countries is home to about 60-70 % of the world's biodiversity.
India, lying within the Indomalaya ecozone, is home to about 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of avian, 6.2% of reptilian, and 6.0% of flowering plant species. Many ecoregions, such as the shola forests, also exhibit extremely high rates of endemism; overall, 33% of Indian plant species are endemic. India's forest cover ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and Northeast India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the sal-dominated moist deciduous forest of eastern India; teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain. Important Indian trees include the medicinal neem, widely used in rural Indian herbal remedies. The pipal fig tree, shown on the seals of Mohenjo-daro, shaded the Gautama Buddha as he sought enlightenment.
Many Indian species are descendants of taxa originating in Gondwana, to which India originally belonged. Peninsular India's subsequent movement towards, and collision with, the Laurasian landmass set off a mass exchange of species. However, volcanism and climatic change 20 million years ago caused the extinction of many endemic Indian forms. Soon thereafter, mammals entered India from Asia through two zoogeographical passes on either side of the emerging Himalaya. As a result, among Indian species, only 12.6% of mammals and 4.5% of birds are endemic, contrasting with 45.8% of reptiles and 55.8% of amphibians. Notable endemics are the Nilgiri leaf monkey and the brown and carmine Beddome's toad of the Western Ghats. India contains 172, or 2.9%, of IUCN-designated threatened species. These include the Asiatic lion, the Bengal tiger, and the Indian white-rumped vulture, which suffered a near-extinction from ingesting the carrion of diclofenac-treated cattle.
In recent decades, human encroachment has posed a threat to India's wildlife; in response, the system of national parks and protected areas, first established in 1935, was substantially expanded. In 1972, India enacted the Wildlife Protection Act and Project Tiger to safeguard crucial habitat; further federal protections were promulgated in the 1980s. Along with over 515 wildlife sanctuaries, India now hosts 18 biosphere reserves, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; 26 wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.