The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis
|The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: The most wonderful fantasy series ever written for children. Don't miss it and don't let them miss it either. And don't forget to check the back of your wardrobe.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 7 books||Date: November 2015|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
A Times Educational Supplement Teachers' Top 100 Book
Oh, where to begin? The Chronicles of Narnia have sold over one hundred million copies and been translated into more than forty languages. What is there to say that hasn't been said already?
Buy them. Read them. Then read them again.
There isn't a better fantasy series for children. There really isn't. In Narnia, good battles evil, animals talk and people can become more and better than they ever dreamed possible. The world is fully realised but there's no geeky, trainspotterish worldbuilding. There are moments of laughter, joy and pain. Sometimes it all gets a little scary and the menace is palpable. You can follow the central characters on a journey through the books but you can fall in love with a member of the supporting cast in each one. My personal favourites are Reepicheep the Mouse in Dawn Treader and Puddleglum the Marshwiggle in Silver Chair.
If you are a child, you can lose yourself in the sheer ease of the writing. If you are an adult, you'll also see its elegance, its rhythm, its precision and its wit and comic timing. People often critcise the Narnia books for their spirituality. CS Lewis was an adult convert to Christianity and Christian motifs scatter all seven books, from Aslan's resurrection in Wardrobe to the end of the world in Last Battle. But the criticisms are unfounded. I can't see Narnia as propaganda but I can see it as an expression of universal values with a religious twist. In any case, if you're worried about balance, you can send your children on to Philip Pullman's splendiferous, and anti-organised religion, His Dark Materials once they've finished with Narnia.
Don't listen to the people at Harper Collins who tell you to read the books in the wrong order - sorry Harper Collins, but it defies plain common sense! Instead, go for the published order:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy go through the back of the famous wardrobe and meet Aslan for the very first time. This book is not only the introduction, it is the easiest read, approachable alone even by newly confident readers.
Prince Caspian - the second and last book with all four Pevensie children. They restore Caspian to his rightful throne.
The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" - introducing the obnoxious Eustace Scrubbs who needs Narnia's influence to become a better person. Reepicheep journeys to the Utter East. Read it and weep.
The Silver Chair - the scariest of the series. Eustace and new Narnian visitor Jill journey underground with Puddleglum the Marshwiggle to try to save Prince Rillian, kidnapped by an evil enchantress.
The Horse and His Boy - in this one, we go back in Narnian time to the reign of the Pevensies. It's a fun and exciting spin off story and you could read it after Wardrobe and before Caspian if you wanted to.
The Magician's Nephew - the prequel, if you like. Don't read it first! It assumes knowledge and it's pitched at slightly older children than is Wardrobe. By this time in the sequence, children are ready to flesh out what they've already learned and this creation story provides the perfect hiatus before and preparation for the last instalment.
The Last Battle - everything has an end, including Narnia. And at last we see what Aslan's country really is.
These are the books. In its own way, each one is a classic. But together, they rise above almost anything else that has been published for children, ever. They make the furore over Harry Potter seem vaguely embarrassing. No child should miss Narnia - deprivation would be a crime. Read them together and rediscover Narnia for yourself. You won't regret it.
You can read a full review of Dawn Treader here.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis is in the Top Ten Classics of Children's Literature.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis is in the Top Ten Books for Young Readers That Feature a Passage Between Worlds.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.