Wild Born: Spirit Animals, Book 1

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Wild Born: Spirit Animals, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Multiplatform magical beast series is a good fantasy intro.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 10 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Spirit animals' natural skills add to their human counterparts' abilities and it will get readers thinking about animals' keener eyesight, superior jumping ability and agility, etc. (Though some skills -- prophecy, healing -- are magical, not natural.)

Positive Messages

Bravery is key; the world needs to be saved from a growing evil force. So is learning to trust others and make good choices. In one scene enemies approach and Conor asks if they should take off their Greencloaks that identify them as possible enemies. Tarik tells them, "Never out of shame or to win favor.... We must stand behind who we are and what we represent."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The four main tween characters are from diverse backgrounds: Conor: sheepherder; Rollan: city street urchin; Meilin: cultured girl from Zhong (who appears Asian); Abeke: strong, independent girl from Nilo (who appears to be from somewhere very much like central Africa). They're not fast friends in this first book of the series, but have growing respect for one another. They each have their faults -- Meilin is proud and Rollan is distrustful -- but are willing to help their cause.

Violence & Scariness

A climactic battle with swords and arrows leaves some people and animals dead or thrown off cliffs and presumed dead; one sympathetic character is stabbed in the back and dies slowly. Some martial arts-style fighting in a ring. Meilin sees death for the first time in a battle that she flees in her home city; there's a surprise attack with arrows and swords. A mention that Abeke's mother had been taken by sickness. Rollan mentions that he may prefer prison to going back to the orphanage where he was mistreated. There's also talk of the war that happened when the four Great Beasts originally fell, killing off whole populations.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wild Born is the first book in a multimedia, multiauthor series from Scholastic, set up similar to its 39 Clues and Infinity Ring series. There's a website (http://spiritanimals.scholastic.com/) where young readers can choose their own spirit animal and character identity and enter codes from the books they read to unlock prizes and whatnot. Each book has a different seasoned children's author, and books are released every few months, starting in September 2013. The Spirit Animal series is set up for animal-loving tween readers just digging into fantasy books. The plot isn't terribly complicated, and the violence the four diverse 11-year-old characters face includes only a couple battles and talk of an evil force from the past coming back to wage war against everyone.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjadync June 23, 2015

this is a great book

this book is good for younger readers.it is really good for kids with an active imagination or for kids like adventures and animals
Parent Written byChillichickn July 17, 2014

Great writing and language

I like this genre myself so wanted to start my daughter on something more diverse than her current reading selection. I was really impressed with the writing an... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBerry UwU June 7, 2019

Lovley story!!

Greetings, I think this book would be worth reading if you happen to like fantasy and adventure, if not then this book might not be for you. The story line is v... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDragonfly200 January 11, 2019

A Great Fantasy Book with a Cool Story!

I read the book when I was about eleven years old and I honestly loved it! The story was exciting and the characters were colorful and I really liked that the s... Continue reading

What's the story?

All children of Edras must drink a drop of a special nectar when they turn 11 to see if they will summon a spirit animal. Few do, and usually it runs in families. So Conor, a simple sheepherder and servant, was shocked to see a great big wolf appear. Even more shocking, it had blue eyes and looked exactly like Briggan, one of the Four Fallen Great Beasts that protected Connor's city in an ancient war. Briggan had in fact returned, just as a secret order called the Greencloaks had foreseen. And then three more of the Four Fallen appear to other children from the far reaches of Edras: a street urchin named Rollan summons the falcon, a warrior's daughter named Meilin summons a panda, and Abeke, a hunter from a small village summons a leopard. The Four Fallen are back for a special purpose as evil begins to brew just outside Edras, and their new humans are not safe. Meilin only just escapes a surprise attack in her city to join the Greencloaks with Rollan and Conor. Abeke and her leopard aren't so lucky.

Is it any good?

Scholastic knows a great formula when it sees one. It certainly worked for the 39 Clues Series. Bestselling kids' authors played hot potato with a fun storyline -- A treasure hunt! A big family mystery! -- and kids could go online for prizes and games and more fun. Next there was the sci-fi time-travel series Infinity Ring. And here we go again, but now fantasy and magic have a turn. And, even better, magical animals. Not terribly original (His Dark Materials, Potter, The Familiars, Abhorsen Trilogy), but animals will always be great fantasy characters, especially for middle grade readers getting their first intro to fantasy worlds.

SPIRIT ANIMALS: WILD BORN started with a solid kids author: Brandon Mull of Fablehaven and Beyonders fame knows how to world build. But it's too bad the second author in line -- Maggie Stiefvater (The Scorpio Races) -- couldn't have helped a little building the relationships between the diverse characters and adding a bit more tension and mystery. We know the evil dudes are coming, but little else about them. And once Meilin rushes out of her city under attack, there's no news of what happened to make the foursome's quest seem more urgent. This installment ends abruptly with just a small piece of the whole quest accomplished, but it's all part of the tried-and-true multiplatform formula.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mixing books you like with online fun. Did you read this and immediately go find your spirit animal on the website? Will you go back to the website before the next book comes out? 

  • How do you think the publisher of the books benefits from combining a website with a book series? 

  • Which character is your favorite and why? Who gets along best with their spirit animal? Worst? Why was Meilin disappointed in getting Jhi?

Book details

  • Author: Brandon Mull
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Topics: Magic and Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
  • Publication date: September 10, 2013
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
  • Number of pages: 208
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, Kindle
  • Last updated: June 23, 2019

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