Once upon a time, long before Harry Potter, there was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. First published in 1950, it is one of The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis. 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. Over 120 million copies have been sold worldwide in at least 80 languages – more than either Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. Just like Lord of the Rings, the Narnia books have proven to be timeless classics, captivating generations of readers.
The Magician's Nephew is about a boy named Digory. Uncle Andrew sends Digory and his friend Polly to another world where they encounter an evil sorceress. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, four children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy – are staying with an old professor who happens to be Digory, now a grown man. Lucy enters a wardrobe and stumbles into the land of Narnia. Narnia is a magical place where it is always winter but never Christmas, because it is under the spell of the White Witch. The Horse and His Boy takes place in the Golden Age of Narnia, where a runaway boy discovers who he is and finds his real father. In Prince Caspian, the four children are going away to boarding school when they are summoned to return to Narnia, where their help is desperately needed. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader takes Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace on an epic sea adventure. In The Silver Chair, Eustace and friend Jill are 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. In The Last Battle, Eustace and Jill must uncover an impostor 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 and children were being evacuated from London, four youngsters were lodged at Lewis’ home in Oxford. One of the evacuees asked an intriguing question about whether anything was behind a big old wardrobe in Lewis’ house. Lewis and his brother used to climb into that same wardrobe, built by their grandfather, and tell each other stories in the dark. Surprised to find how few imaginative stories his young guests knew, Lewis decided to create one for them. This story became The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.
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. Actually, the world of Narnia was based on all kinds of things: the talking animals like those in the books Lewis loved when he was young; the wicked queen from a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale; the dwarfs of 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).
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.
The Man Who Created Narnia, by Michael Coren (The story of C.S. Lewis.)
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 Narnian creatures.)
www.narnia.com (The official Narnia website.)
www.walden.com/web/teach/lww (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.geocities.com/Area51/Vault/9451/chron.htm (Story summaries.)
www.love2learn.net/literature/narnia.htm (The Chronicles of Narnia study questions.)
www.eduplace.com/tview/tviews/l/lionthewitchandthewardrob.html (A complete teaching unit.)
ARTICLES & REVIEWS |
NOT JUST FOR KIDS |
These pages are a continuous work in progress.
These pages are a continuous work in progress.