Saturday, May 1, 2021


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2009, first published 1956

In this novel we met all of the people from our world who have travelled to Narnia – except for Susan who dismisses  the earlier adventure a s child’s play and who is now more interested in stockings and lipstick. Narnia‘s world ends and they enter a new world. We should feel sorry for Susan. It seems that her brothers and sister have been killed in a train accident and gone to - heaven?

Before that happens, though, first Jill and Eustace, later joined by Peter, Edmund and Lucy, have to have a real adventure in the original Narnia. They have to a battle with the perhaps unfortunately named Darkies –a brown-skinned race who attack Narnia and try to deforest it.

The story starts off in a comic way.  A talking ape and his friend, a donkey, find a lion skin. The ape dresses the donkey in this and pretends it is Aslan and that Aslan approves of what he is doing with Narnia’s enemy.

There are echoes of Plato; the dwarves are enclosed in a stable and can’t see the wider world beyond the stable. Even when they are let out they still seem to be in the dark. They are offered splendid food but only understand it as basic roots and tasteless mush.  Fine wine becomes to them polluted water.

Adult readers, even Christian ones, may find some of the religious symbolism troubling.  Younger readers may find it puzzling.

Nevertheless this is an engaging adventure with an upbeat ending.

The book is 268 pages long, printed in blocked text in an adult font. There are several monochrome illustrations and maps at the beginning of the book.           

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S lewis



2009, first published 1951

Edmund, Lucy, Peter and Susan are evacuated during World War II and have to stay with a strange professor and his dour housekeeper Mrs Macready.  Lucy hides in the wardrobe one day when they are playing hide and seek and stumbles into Narnia. No one believes her - and even Edmund, who follow her there on the second visit, denies Narnia’s existence.  Mrs Macready takes visitors on tours of the house and the children have to keep out of tier way. They all hide in the wardrobe and end up in Narnia, where it is always winter but never Christmas.  However, once thy have been there a short while, the snow and ice begin to melt and Father Christmas arrives.

Edmund becomes involved with the witch who resembles Hans Christian Andresen’s snow queen. On his first visit he has eaten Turkish delight and is addicted.   The other three have to get him free from the witch’s power.

There is some Christian symbolism that is uncomfortable for some readers:  the lion Aslan gives his life that Edmund might be saved. He rises from the dead.

Also, much seems predetermined.  A prophecy says that Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve will rule Narnia. Have the four come to Narnia merely to fulfil that prophecy?  Clearly this is why the witch wants to be rid of them all.  She wishes to rule over Narnia.

This is the first book that C S Lewis wrote in the series though chronologically it is the second story. The language is somewhat fresher in this novel than in the others and though there is still an omniscient author he is slightly less intrusive than in subsequent texts.

The book is 208 pages long, in blocked text with an adult but slightly larger than normal font. It is accompanied by line drawings.    

Sunday, April 4, 2021

The Magician’s Nephew by C S Lewis

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2008, first published 1955  

fluent reader,  ages 9-11,  upper primary, classic, Lewis C S, classic, Narnia, fantasy, Christian,  

Digory’s strange uncle works away in his attic study. As Digory plays with Polly, a neighbour, they find their way into his uncle’s study.  Uncle Andrew has been dabbling with magic. Digory and Polly get involved and find themselves being transported to other worlds.  Because of Digroy’s curiosity, they manage to wake a witch whom they accidentally take with them first to their own world and then to the birth of Narnia.

Digory wonders whether the magical properties of Narnia can help save his dying mother.  But Aslan points out to him that he has already brought evil to the land of Narnia.  Aslan sends him on a mission to recover a fruit that will grow into a tree that will protect Narnia to some extent. The witch tempts him to return to his own world and use the fruit on his mother.

He resists this temptation as he knows he has already caused some problems in Narnia. His reward is that he does get to take some fruit home which cures his mother but does not make her immortal as it has the witch.  She only eats a small slice of it.  

He plants the rest of the fruit in the garden.  The tree grows rapidly and seems to have a connection with Narnia.  One day, by the time he is quite an old man, it falls down in a storm.  He makes a wardrobe from it.  We all know which one!

Christian symbolism is here as in all of the Narnia stories.  We have a creation story.  There is the fight between good and evil.  Digory is tempted by the witch to use the fruit for his own purposes.   

Polly’s role is understated. She does support Digory throughout even though at times there is tension between them.     

The book is in blocked text and uses an adult font.  A few illustrations are peppered throughout it. Though this is the first Narnia story chronologically it was the fifth and penultimate to be written.  The language in this one is very engaging and C S Lewis really communicates with his reader.             

Saturday, March 20, 2021

What We're Scared Of by Keren David


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Evie and Lottie are non-identical twins.  They are completely different from each other.  Evie is funny, small, “zaftig” (Yiddish word for chubby) and goes to the local comp. She has quite a following as a stand-up comic. Lottie, is tall, slim, asthmatic, and possibly has an eating disorder but this is understated in the text.  She is clever and goes to a fee-paying school. Their mother is Jewish but is not a practising Jew nor is at all religious.

They start to confront their Jewishness when their mother brings back an old school friend and her son Noah.   Sarah an d Noah have moved from Paris because Noah and his father were attacked for being Jewish, Noah stays with the twins and the family for a while.

Meanwhile, Lottie befriends another Jewish girl at her school.  Hannah introduces Lottie to more formal aspects of the Jewish way of life.  

Their mother mentions what has happened to Sarah and Noah on her radio show.  She is immediately trolled and starts to receive hate mail.

Both girls ae put in danger because they are Jewish.  

They meet a Holocaust survivor who encourages them to “Seize opportunities” and “celebrate the good times” p300.

The text is blocked and in adult font.  It is 300 pages long. The acknowledgments at the end of the book tell us a little about David’s research. There is also a short biography of the author at the end.            

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Prince Caspian by C S Lewis


2009, first published 1951  

Edmond, Lucy, Peter and Susan are summoned to Narnia again.  It happens as they are sitting on station platform waiting for the train that will take them to their boarding schools.  Already boarding school is an exotic concept for many 21st century readers.  Prince Caspian, who should rightfully be the king of Narnia, has used Susan’s hunting horn to call them.

Years and years have passed since they were last in Narnia. The castle where they used to reign is in ruins. Narnia is in trouble again. The talking animals and moving trees are not visible. The current king, Caspian’s uncle, dismissed the history as fairy tales. He is not too worried that Caspian will become king after his death but then he and his wife have a baby and Caspian becomes a threat. Caspian’s life is now in danger.

His tutor rescues him.  He warns him of the danger and helps him to flee.  After the children are summoned, they have to help him to regain his kingdom.  They are aided by Aslan.

The story borders on science fiction.  The humans who now inhabit Narnia actually came from our world, the world to which the children will return.  Aslan warns that Peter and Susan will no longer be able to come back to Narnia as they have become too old. Time behaves oddly: only a few month have lapsed in our world whereas centuries have gone by n Narnia. In our world they are children.  In Narnia they are more grown up and able to take responsibility.

The book is 240 pages long, in blocked text and using an adult font. There is a map at the front of the book and a few illustrations peppered throughout it.          

      click image to view on Amazon 2009, first published 1956 In this novel we met all of the people from our world who have travell...