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Michael De Groote, Deseret News
Ellie De Groote reads "Spirit Animals: Book 1 Wild Born" by Brandon Mull surrounded by her own animal friends.

"Spirit Animals Book 1: Wild Born," by Brandon Mull; Scholastic

Ellie's Bookshelf — book review By Ellie De Groote

If I lived in the land of Erdas, I would want to summon a spirit animal more than anything. If you get lucky enough to read Brandon Mull's recent book, "Spirit Animals Book 1: Wild Born," you would want to do that, too. This exciting adventure series will show you how spirit animals create special bonds with children.

In this case, the bonds are between an individual child and one of the great beasts, which results in battles between the good guys (the Greencloaks) and the bad side (the Devourer and his gang). Spirit animals work together with their human partners to increase each other's powers, both physically and mentally.

The author, Brandon Mull, guesses at what animal he would get: "I think I might get a dolphin because dolphins are kind of goofy and playful and that would match my personality."

I think that I might summon a tiger or a panther because these animals are tough and sleek, and I have always loved them.

Risking their lives

"Spirit Animals: Wild Born" begins with four 11-year olds who summon spirit animals in unusual ways. Bringing out a spirit animal is very rare, but summoning one of the great beasts is hardly ever seen in Erdas. The four kids all summon them back to help with the great battle between good and evil.

Conor brings Briggan, the wolf. Abeke gets Uraza, the leopard. Meilin summons Jhi, the panda. And Rollan partners with Essix, the falcon.

Each of these children must decide which side they believe to be right while risking their lives — all for someone they have never even met. Will they win against the evil Devourer, find the Greencloaks or even just survive the whole ordeal?

Many authors

Unlike a lot of other series I have read, each Spirit Animals book will be written by a different author. "Unlike my other series when I make up all the story and I write all the books, with this one, Scholastic came to me with the idea of kids and animals with this special bond that share powers," Mull said.

Even though he is only writing the first book, Mull did outline the complete series with what would happen and all of the main characters. The second book, "Spirit Animals Book 2: Hunted," came out last month and is written by Maggie Stiefvater.

I think it is a really interesting idea to have seven authors come together as a team to create one series of seven books. The advantage of doing it this way is that the books can come out a lot faster.

A game

One of my favorite parts of Spirit Animals is spiritanimals.com. It has information about the authors of the next six books, but by far the most fantastic part is the game.

I created my own account with the code included inside the book and then I got to summon my own spirit animal.

I got a penguin and Mull told me that when he played the game he got the tiger. "My favorite part is the game because it's fun to see the world of Erdas come to life in a different way and participate in the story," he said. "You can get your own spirit animal and have adventures like the characters have in the book. My character is at a level 10 or 11. It's pretty fun."

I talked to Mull about the unique characters in "Wild Born." First, we discussed who he would like to talk to. He answered that it would be Rollan because he is pretty funny and he grew up differently than Mull. They would talk about what it is like to be an orphan and to have a falcon as a spirit animal.

Then I asked him who in the book he would actually like to be. "It would be fun to be (Tarik) because he has such a good relationship with his animal," he said. "He's such a good fighter and you feel like you're pretty safe with him. His otter gives him amazing coordination. That would make him interesting."

Writing process

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Mull also gave me an insight into his writing process. The hardest part of writing for him is the transitions — making sure all the exciting and fun parts come together in the right way and that every scene blends with the next in a smooth way. The easiest time for him is when he's in the middle of a good scene. Everything just comes fast and easy at that point. He loves creating new worlds, like Erdas, and all of the features and people that go along with it.

Mull is thrilled with another new book series he is writing called Five Kingdoms. He said that it is the most interesting world he has created yet, but I think the world of the spirit animals is the best. I loved "Spirit Animals: Wild Born" and I know that you will, too. Remember also to be sure to go on spiritanimals.com. A good time awaits you in doing both of these.

Ellie De Groote is 10 years old and loves unicycles, jump rope, Lego League, her sister Kate and her cats Yum Yum and Fur Face.