Q&A with the kiddo: A kid’s-eye view of the books of Narnia

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia, #1)Prince Caspian (The Chronicles of Narnia, #2)The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia, #5)

Proudly presenting Q&A with the kiddo, courtesy of my 10-year-old son, in which I ask my kiddo to describe a book he’s enjoyed recently and he gives his opinions, more or less unfiltered by mom.

Kiddo and I are in the midst of our Narnia read. Neither of us had read these books previously. In fact, I consider my childhood somewhat deficient due to its lack of both Narnia and Anne of Green Gables books. It’s never too late, I say! I read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe for the first time about ten years ago, but it’s a whole different ballgame reading it as part of a greater body of work. So far, we two have read The Magician’s Nephew (discussed earlier, here) and have now finished TLTW&TW, Prince Caspian, and most recently, The Horse and His Boy.

Let’s see what the kiddo has to say. Without further ado:

Q: Of the four Narnia books we’ve read so far, which was your favorite?

A: My favorite was The Horse and His Boy. I like Shasta, the main character, and I like the ending. In the end, everything turned out good. Aslan actually saved them, and Shasta turned out to be Prince Cor. I like how Rabadash (the bad guy) was punished in the end and got turned into a donkey. I like how they (the main characters) traveled through all the places and how Aravis got scratched by the lion to punish her for causing her servant to get whipped. Bree and Hwin (the talking horses) were cool. They should have gotten married, but at least they’re still best friends. I liked Prince Corin because he always knocked people down and later became a champion boxer. I liked King Lune too. The battle scenes were cool. I wish they’d make a movie from this book.

Q: What did you think about the other books? What parts or characters did you like the most?

A:  I liked King Peter, King Edmund, Queen Susan, and Queen Lucy. They brought light into the story. They were the most important in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and were also important in Prince Caspian. I liked them better in TLTW&TW because they were more active in the fighting and in controlling what happened. In Prince Caspian, Prince Caspian was the most important, and Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy were just there to support him.

Q: What did you think of Prince Caspian?

A: He’s okay. I liked the book. I especially liked all the talking animals and the fight (battle) scenes. I liked how they (the Pevensies) got called back to Narnia by Susan’s horn. Reepicheep (the warrior mouse) was cool with his uncut tail.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: It’s a good series. I definitely want to continue with the other books. I want to see the movies.

Mom’s two cents:

Well, we’ve managed to mess up the order of the books, but it’s actually all turning out fine anyway. From what I understand, you can either read them in order of publication (starting with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) or in what is supposed to be C. S. Lewis’s preferred reading order, going by the chronology of the story itself. [Note: In trying to figure out which way is “right”, all I could find was reference to a single letter by the author in which he states that it would work to read the stories chronologically rather than by publication date. It didn’t sound like he was terribly insistent upon it though, which made me think that C. S. Lewis  might not really have had a preference after all. But I digress.]

In any case, we started out going by the story chronology, then inadvertently switched a couple of books, but it doesn’t seem to matter in the slightest in terms of following the story. So far, we’ve read The Magician’s Nephew, then The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and finally The Horse and His Boy.

I’ll agree with my son on this one, and say that we both thought that The Horse and His Boy was the most fun of the lot. Perhaps it’s because it reads like a great adventure story — all about a boy who doesn’t fit in, who runs off with a stolen war horse rather than be sold as a slave, and in seeking his freedom, discovers his own bravery and encounters courage, kindness, treachery, and danger along the way. There are hidden and mistaken identities, twins separated at birth, chases across the desert, royal viziers and high princes, a siege, a great battle, and a variety of odd and interesting creatures, including talking horses and other beasts of Narnia, giants, and the great and noble Lion Aslan.

Not to say that we didn’t enjoy TLTW&TW and Prince Caspian quite a bit as well. We love High King Peter and his brother and sisters, King Edmund, Queen Lucy, and Queen Susan. It was a bit disconcerting at the start of Prince Caspian to see them back in their old lives as English schoolchildren, but quite fascinating once they return to Narnia and realize that centuries have gone by since the time of their reign, despite it only being one year later in their world. The story of Prince Caspian and his rise to power, overthrowing his evil uncle in order to restore the magic and wonder of the kingdom of Narnia, is exciting and action-packed, and introduces us to many memorable magical creatures. There’s quite a bit of humor as well, so the moments of suspense and danger are nicely balanced by laughter and light-heartedness.

All in all, we’re having a great time reading the Narnia books together. The pacing of the story makes for a good read-aloud, and the chapters are just the right length for reading one each night before bed without a) me losing my voice (like I did with Harry Potter) or b) being too short to be satisfying.

At this point, we’re in. We’re definitely planning to read the three remaining books this summer, picking back up with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as soon as the kiddo gets home from sleepaway camp.

As Bree the horse frequently exclaimed, “Narnia and the North!” Onward we go.

Q&A with the kiddo: A kid’s-eye view of The Magician’s Nephew

Book Review: The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis

The Magician's Nephew (The Chronicles of Narnia, #6)

Proudly presenting Q&A with the kiddo, courtesy of my 10-year-old son, in which I ask my kiddo to describe a book he’s enjoyed recently and he gives his opinions, more or less unfiltered by mom.

Without further ado:

Q: What book do you want to talk about?

A: The Magician’s Nephew

Q: What was it about?

A: It was about these kids . They were friends, and the boy’s uncle was a magician, and they got sent to another world. They went into two different worlds. In one there was an evil queen who took over and then tried to take over Earth. Then they teleported into soon-to-be Narnia. There was a lion that was singing and made Narnia. His name was Aslan. Everything they buried turned into a tree. He gave speech to the chosen animals and the especially chosen of the chosen animals were in the high council. The boy and the girl eventually get back to their own world.

Q: Who was your favorite character?

A: Fledge, who is basically a Pegasus, a horse with wings. And King Frank, because his name is weird.

Q: What was the best part?

A: My favorite part was when they planted toffee candy and it grew into a toffee tree. I wonder if you dropped a part of a refrigerator on the ground, would there be a refrigerator tree?

Q: Would you recommend this book?

A: Yes. I’d recommend it for people who like Harry Potter, adventure stories, and talking animals.

Q: Do you want to read the rest of the series?

A: Yes! I want to read the rest of the  Narnia books.

Mom’s two cents:

Somehow, I made it through childhood without ever reading any of the Narnia books. Even as an adult — and a big fan of fantasy writing — I never got around to Narnia until my daughter was old enough for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which we read together many years ago. Neither of us ended up pursuing the rest of the series, and it wasn’t until last month when my son came up with the idea of checking out Narnia that I came back to these books.*

*Although there have been several Narnia movies released in the last few years, neither of us has seen them, so we approached reading the books from scratch.

I decided that we should read the books not in publication order, but in the order which author C. S. Lewis later said was his preferred reading chronology — which meant starting with The Magician’s Nephew.

So what did I think? This rather slight book was actually quite fun. The story is rather simple: Neighbors Polly and Digory, looking for adventure, stumble upon the secret room of Digory’s uncle Alexander, who has been working to become a skilled magician all his life. Through Alexander, the children come into possession of magical rings which transport them from their own world into other worlds. They have the misfortune of awakening an evil witch, who follows them home to London for starters, then onward to a brand new planet just in time to see the mighty lion Aslan create all life in this beautiful new world. Digory is responsible for bringing evil into this new world, via the witch, and so must make amends by performing a special quest for Aslan in order to prove his worth.

It’s all quite lovely, with bits of humor and silly adventure, as well as much heavier moments of pondering the nature of good and evil. I liked very much how the story lays the foundation for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I think one of the reasons I avoided reading the Narnia series all these years is because of the religious allegory woven into the story. For The Magician’s Nephew, at least, I chose to willfully ignore those parts (the creation myth, the Garden of Eden, the fruit of the tree of knowledge, etc) and just focus on the fantasy — in essence, try to read it from the same perspective as my son.

As a book to read together, The Magician’s Nephew worked very well, and we both enjoyed the story quite a bit. We laughed at the funnier parts, we peeked ahead when a chapter ended with a cliffhanger. I asked my son whether he would have wanted to read this one on his own. His response was that while he liked the story quite a bit, he didn’t think he would have wanted to deal with the “old-fashioned” words that he was unfamiliar with throughout the story (“hansom-cab”, “frockcoat”, and the exclamation, “Well don’t keep on gassing about it!”, for example).

We’re moving right into The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Narnia, ho!