The Chronicles of Narnia
"All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour, and the books of all time." -John Ruskin
Once upon a time, long before Harry Potter, there was Narnia. Some people have compared the currently popular Harry Potter series to the beloved classic, The Chronicles of Narnia. In my opinion, however, there can be no comparison; the Narnia series is so much better, both as well-written literature and as a well-crafted fantasy story. Just like the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, these are wonderful read-alouds for the whole family. They are timeless books that can be read over and over again without losing their appeal.
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, consists of seven books. The original order in which Lewis wrote and published them was: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950); Prince Caspian (1951); The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952); The Silver Chair (1953); The Horse and His Boy (1954); The Magician's Nephew (1955); and The Last Battle (1956). The chronological progression of the stories goes like this: The Magician's Nephew; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; and The Last Battle. This is the order in which the book sets are sold nowadays.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe begins in London with the air raids of World War II. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are sent away to stay with an old professor who lives in the countryside. While exploring his intriguing house, Lucy enters a wardrobe and stumbles into another world. This is Narnia, where animals talk, where magical things happen, and where it is always winter, but never Christmas, because it is under the spell of the White Witch.
In Prince Caspian, the four children are returning to boarding school when they are summoned from the train station to return to Narnia, where their help is now desperately needed.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader seeks to find the seven lords who King Caspian's evil uncle had banished when he forcibly stole the throne. The journey takes Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace on an epic sea adventure to the Eastern Islands, beyond the Silver Sea, toward the End of the World.
In The Silver Chair, Eustace and Jill are back at school, escaping from bullies through a strange door in a wall that leads them to an open moor. Once again, Narnia needs the children's help, to pursue a dangerous quest through caverns deep and dark, and come face to face with the evil Witch, who must be defeated if Prince Rilian is to be saved.
The Horse and His Boy takes place in the Golden Age of Narnia, during Peter's reign as High King. A boy named Shasta runs away after he discovers that he is not the son of Arsheesh, the Calormene fisherman. When he is mistaken for another runaway, Shasta is led to discover who he really is, and in the process he finds his real father.
The Magician's Nephew is a boy named Digory. His Uncle Andrew, a magician, sends Digory and his friend Polly to another world where they encounter the evil sorceress Jadis.
In The Last Battle, a false lion is roaming the land. Eustace and Jill must pursue a dangerous quest to uncover the impostor, find the true Aslan - the Great Lion - and restore peace to Narnia.
Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, a seaport in Northern Ireland. He grew up in a large old house with secret nooks and lots of books. Lewis was encouraged to read anything he liked. Two of his favorites were Treasure Island and The Secret Garden. Lewis’ mother taught him at home, but tragically she died when he was 10. Lewis was sent away to boarding schools for several years and later was privately tutored before attending Oxford University. As an adult, Lewis was a bachelor who didn’t know any children, so he had never thought of writing a book for young readers. Then when World War II began, children from London were evacuated to the country, and four youngsters were lodged at Lewis' home in Oxford. Surprised to find how few imaginative stories his young guests knew, he decided to write one for them. He began writing a story about four children - then named Ann, Martin, Rose, and Peter - who were sent away during the war to stay with an old professor who lived by himself in the country. That's all Lewis wrote at the time, but several years later he returned to the story. The children (now named Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) found their way into another world - a land he would eventually call Narnia.
An allegory is a story in which persons or objects represent something else beyond their surface meaning. The Narnia stories are often referred to as Christian allegories, but Lewis did not intend them to be such. The image of a faun carrying parcels and an umbrella in a snowy wood had been in his mind since he was sixteen. As Lewis wrote, more pictures came to him. He wasn't sure at first what the story was about. "But then," as he later put it, "suddenly Aslan came bounding in . . . I don't know where the Lion came from or why he came. But … he pulled the whole story together."
All kinds of things went into the making of C.S. Lewis' Narnia. There were the talking animals from the books he loved when he was young; the wicked queen from a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale; the dwarfs of the old German myths; the mythological creatures of ancient Greece; Irish legends; and elements of Christianity. Lewis was greatly impressed by Scottish author George MacDonald, who wrote children's books such as The Princess and the Goblin as well as adult fantasies full of religious symbolism. Lewis said, “I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him.” Lewis was also influenced by his close friend J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955). There was the intriguing question that one of the evacuees had asked him, about whether there was anything behind the big old wardrobe at Lewis' house in Oxford. And there were the memories of when he and his brother used to climb into that very wardrobe made by their grandfather, and tell each other stories in the dark.
C. S. Lewis once said: "People won't write the books I want, so I have to do it for myself." In doing so, he wrote books that millions of other people also wanted to read. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is one of the best-loved books of all time. Over 120 million copies have been sold worldwide in at least 80 languages – more than either Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. The final book in the series, The Last Battle, was awarded the prestigious Carnegie Award. The Chronicles of Narnia have captivated generations of readers, both young and old, for over fifty years, and they show no sign of losing their magical hold over our imaginations.
Narnia is a must-see film for fantasy fans! The long-awaited Narnia movie opens in theaters on December 9. You and your family still have time to read the book before you view the movie if you haven’t already. Just as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fine read-aloud for the whole family, the movie is destined to be a wonderful family film. Although Disney put their name on it, the movie itself was produced by relative newcomers to the entertainment industry – Walden Media. These are the same people who made the movie Holes and are currently working on Charlotte’s Web and The Dark is Rising. With a staff of educators and parents rather than Hollywood insiders, their goal is to produce high quality, family-friendly, faithful film adaptations of classic literature with positive moral themes. The Walden Media website features standards-based educational materials to supplement the movie experience.
Turkish Delight Recipe
"The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle onto the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious." -The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
To make some Turkish Delight, you will need: 6 (3 oz.) packages Jell-O (lime, lemon, or orange), 1 cup boiling water, and confectioners sugar. Put 6 (3 oz.) packages of Jell-O in a saucepan. Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir to mix. Simmer over low heat 5 minutes. Pour into wet 8-inch square pan. Cool and chill until firm. Cut into 1-inch squares and toss them in confectioners sugar.
The Man Who Created Narnia, by Michael Coren (The story of C.S. Lewis, with photos.)
The Narnia Trivia Book (Test your knowledge of Narnia with over 100 questions and answers.)
A Book of Narnians (A beautiful book with full-color illustrations of wonderful Narnia creatures.)
www.knowledgehouse.info/lewis.html (C.S. Lewis biography.)
www.narnia.com (The official Narnia website.)
www.walden.com/images/uploads/resource/LWW_DVDGuide.pdf (Narnia teaching tools from Walden Media.)
http://cslewis.drzeus.net (Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis website.)
http://TheNarniaAcademy.org (Beyond the Wardrobe: a free online 20-lesson study of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.)
http://factmonster.com/quizzes/narnialion/1.html (Test your knowledge about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in this online quiz.)
www.love2learn.net/literature/narnia.htm (The Chronicles of Narnia study questions.)
www.eduplace.com/tview/tviews/l/lionthewitchandthewardrob.html (A complete teaching unit.)
www.narniaweb.com (Narnia Web: Fan Site.)
www.narniaexhibition.com (Narnia: The Exhibition.)
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