Monday, December 1, 2008

Great Read this December: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Disney's film, "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” comes to DVD on December 2, 2008, just in time for the holidays. Both Chronicles of Narnia movie adaptations have revitalized interest in C. S. Lewis' original series. It's a great time to jump in and encourage the children in your life, and yourself, to read, or re-read, the original C. S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia books.

When first published, The Chronicles of Narnia were as popular for British and American children as the Harry Potter series is today. And why? The genius in Lewis’ work is his ability to tell a moving, exciting, meaningful story while simultaneously teaching important Christian doctrinal truths.

Although Lewis very much strayed from telling people that his books were purely allegorical, he liked to call them symbolic myths. You will find The Chronicles of Narnia an easy but uplifting read. Lewis' favorite uncle-like storytelling voice is engaging for adults and children alike.

The most recent editions of The Chronicles of Narnia have printed the books in Narnia-time chronological order. The movies, however, are being released in the order that Lewis wrote the books, which is also the order of reading I suggest, as follows:

1) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
2) Prince Caspian
3) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4) The Silver Chair
5) The Horse and His Boy
6) The Magician's Nephew
7) The Last Battle

If you’re new to The Chronicles of Narnia, here is some information about the first three books and highlights to look for as you read to get you started.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a great way to start reading C. S. Lewis. The new publication of the series has you read The Magician’s Nephew first, but I recommend starting with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The overall themes of the return of Aslan, his sacrifice for Edmund, and the realization of the role Aslan has in store for all four children in Narnia are captivating. None of the Narnia books are very long, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe jots along at such an exciting pace that you wish there was more when you finish.

In Prince Caspian, the four children return to Narnia. While only a year has passed in England, hundreds of years have passed in Narnia. They are brought back to help Prince Caspian overthrow his usurper uncle and return harmony between talking beasts and humans in Narnia. The beginning of the book is a bit slow until the children (and the reader) are brought up to speed with Narnian history, but the battle scene at the end of the book is well worth the wait. In addition, Prince Caspian is an important set-up volume for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a great adventure story! In this book, Caspian, Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace, a new character, travel to different islands as part of a quest. Each island is full of symbolic occurrences and culminates with the children meeting Aslan in his own land. This is one of Lewis’ best in Christian symbolism.

A copy of Lewis’ original Prince Caspian coupled with the new Disney DVD is a great gift idea to encourage readers of all ages. Now is a great time to read, or re-read, C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia!

1 comment:

MARIE RICKS said...

This blog always leaves me excited to read a new book, reread a favorite, and learn about another new author. Thanks, Jenn, for helping us along the way!