One of the first books I remember is the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think we were 10, 8 and 6 then, me being the 8. My mom used to read it to us before bed. We would all pile up in her bed and read one chapter each night. You can imagine how horrible that was when we got to the interesting bits, because no matter how much was begged she would only read one chapter.
I loved Mr Tumnus, I thought he was wonderful, bumbling and in the end good-natured. Mr and Mrs Beaver made the perfect guides and protectors for the young children as they entered this magical land. I think I identified most with Lucy because of my age and her natural curiosity. I became obsesses with checking closest for a while and to this day when I see a real wardrobe it makes me all nostalgic.
* If you want to know where the wardrobe came from you have to read The Magician’s Nephew.
As I grew older I read all of the books in the series and came to like The Silver Chair the best. There is something about the unlike-able children (Eustace and Jane Poll) and their woebegone guide Puddle Glum that makes the story ironic. There is also a witch and a whole under world that add a little more drama and mystery.
Much later I read some interesting commentaries on the allegorical nature of the books and their characters. If you are into that there are lots of great information about the Christian illusions though out the different books but especially in the archetypes of the children.
I must confess that I have been watching the new movies. So far they are not bad. I have watched the older versions of several of the stories and though I love them, they would probably not be good if you hadn’t seen them as a child first. I worry though that “big” budgets might strip away the simple honesty of the books that made them so charming to me as a child and respect the delicacy of dealing with battles and wars on a child’s scale they gained when I was an adult.
Side bar– this is my issue with the peeps who try to compare The Lord of the Rings to Narnia. The first is an adult world with mostly adult figures, Frodo and Sam are on the edge of adulthood when they take on this task and never behave like children. Conversely you can only enter Narnia so long as you are a child, which is why in the later book the older children (Susan and Peter) are not allowed to return until The Last Battle. Okay I’ll get off my box now.
This is a wonderful series of YA and Children’s literature and I do mean literature. There is a quality to the writing, better vocabulary choice and a complexity of thought that is so often lost in a lost of the writing done today for these groups. I am so glad that my mom encouraged all three of us to read things that not only were fun but expanded our minds and made us better readers.