Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew

I decided to read The Chronicles of Narnia in the "new" order, which is chronologically and not in the order they were published. I know that there are people who would say that this is incorrect, but I think it is going to be just fine.

We started, therefore, with The Magician's Nephew, which was the 6th book published in the series, but the first in order of events as they occur.

The Story: Digory's mother is sick, and so they move in with his Aunt and his very strange and mysterious Uncle in London. He happens to meet the neighbor girl, Polly, and they have lots of fun playing together. One day, they decide to explore the crawlspace between adjascent houses (which are all connected) and end up inadvertently in Digory's uncle's study. As it turns out, Uncle Andrew fancies himself a magician, and tricks the children into acting as guinea pigs in his magical "experiment" - after using actual guinea pigs didn't turn out so well. Much to his surprise, the children are transported magically to a place where they can travel between different worlds. They visit a strange world of Charn, where everything is dead and desolate, until Digory makes a grave error and awakens the evil Empress and Witch, Jadis. Jadis follows them back to their own world and wreaks some havoc there before Digory and Polly manage to get her back to the magical place between worlds, and then they enter what was an empty world. They witness something truly spectacular - the birth of a new world, Narnia. In order to protect this new world from the Evil Witch who hitched a ride with them, Digory, with Polly along with him, is sent on a magical quest before he (and Polly) can return home.

The Good: The writing is fantastic, and the imagery is so full. The characters are multifaceted and the adventure is exciting. Who wouldn't like to read about new worlds, and magical creatures? Even in their ordinary lives in London, Polly and Digory are fun characters. Throw magic in with them and it's just lovely. This book (and the ones to follow) are simply classics.

The Bad: Some things are a bit frightening, and some of it is a bit dated (I had to explain what a hansome cab was), but that's not all bad. Evalina's pretty sensitive at times, and none of the chapter ending cliffhangers really got her too anxious. I can't think of much bad to say about this book, except for that Evalina couldn't probably read it by herself, but she's not quite 6 yet, so what do you expect? It is rife with religious imagery, but even though I am not religious, I see nothing wrong with a Jesus-lion. It's pretty innocuous, in that regard.

The Verdict: Amazon lists this as ages 9+. For a read-aloud book, it was fine for Evalina. She loved it. I loved reading it. It didn't take very long for us to read, and we were also reading one of the Magic Schoolbus books along with it. I cannot wait to see how she likes the next books in the series. I would recommend this to anyone.

Evalina's "Book Report": Coming soon. She drew some great pictures, I just have to get them on the computer.

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