Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

We really loved reading Prince Caspian, and I wonder if the movie is faithful - thoughts?

The Story: Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy were heading to boarding school when a strange force pulled them from the train station into Narnia! It was not the Narnia they recognized from their time there. Their beloved castle at Cair Paravel has become completely overgrown by apple trees, and has fallen into ruin. The magical talking beasts have mostly been exterminated, and those who remain have gone into hiding. Dwarves and the like are also in hiding, and the naiads and dryads have all but disappeared. Aslan has not been seen in generations, and most people doubt his existance, and think that the legends of the Golden Age of Narnia when Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy ruled are just that - legends. What has drawn the four children back to Narnia (only a year or so has passed in their time, though it has been hundreds of years in Narnia) is the call from Caspian, rightful king of Narnia, and friend to the exiled Talking Beasts and Magical creatures. He has been denied his rightful throne by his Uncle Miraz, who is out to kill him. Can the children help him defeat Miraz, and return Narnia to the splendors of the golden age?

The Good: As expected, the story telling is fantastic. Evalina loved the characters, from the slightly nefarious dwarf Nikabrick to the courageous mouse Rippicheep, to of course Caspian and the four children, and the ever popular Aslan. The story was engaging and quick, and ended happily. Miraz was suitably unpleasant so that you didn't feel too badly when he got his in the end (sorry for spoiling at all). We just love this writing.

The Bad: There is a good deal of violence, and people getting their heads cleaved off, and stabbed in the back, and lots of fighting. Some of the themes went a bit over Evalina's head, and I had to explain some things, but overall, not bad. She did keep asking where Cor (Shasta) from The Horse and His Boy were. They play no part in this story at all.

The Verdict: Overall, quite a wonderful book. I think that Evalina would have gotten some more out of it if she was a little older. She's kind of sensitive at times, and still didn't have much of a problem with the people who were killed, or the amounts of violence. She really liked when the trees came to life and started walking around. We were outside when we read that part, and she kept looking up at the trees in wonder. Though Amazon recommends the book for grades 4-8, my 6 year old loved it and got a lot out of it. I can see her re-reading the whole series when she is older, though, and getting even more out of it.

Evalina's "Book Report": Totally slacking on this lately. She really loved the story, though, so maybe she'll get back into it soon. I'm sure this summer, when school is out, we'll be able to do some fun things with books some more.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

We took a little while longer than normal to read The Horse and His Boy, because life got in the way, but we really enjoyed it.

The Story: In a land to the South of Narnia called Calormen, which seems kind of "arabian" in culture, a young boy named Shasta meets a Talking Horse named Bree, and learns that he, like Bree, is from Narnia, and not Calormene at all. He escapes with Bree from his "home," where he was little better than a slave, and sets out to return to their homeland of Narnia in the North. Along the way, they meet another kidnapped Narnian Horse, Hwin, and her rider, Aravis, who has run away from a forced marriage. They go through much adventure on their way to Narnia, even running across the path of the "children" from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, now Kings and Queens of Narnia. Can Shasta, Bree, Aravis, and Hwin get to the safety of Narnia, and maybe thwart a Calormene invasion of the kingdom neighboring Narnia, Archenland, in the process? And who is Shasta, actually? How did he get to Calormen? It's a mystery waiting to be solved.

The Good: The adventure is very exciting, and Evalina really loved the talking horses. Shasta and Aravis (and Bree, for that matter) have a great deal of character growth througout the book. And of course, Aslan is always a hit when he makes an appearance. Evalina also liked seeing the "kids" from the previous book, in their royal splendor.

The Bad: This book has some dealings with slavery and war, and I don't know if Evalina was really ready for those parts. She knows that slavery is wrong, and didn't seem to understand why the Calormenes took it all in stride. She also didn't understand why people war. Join the club, girl.

The Verdict: I had never read this book before, and I enjoyed it quite a lot. It even had a surprise twist at the end! (Well, kind of a surprise. You could probably figure it out if you were paying attention). The adventure was fun, and Evalina definately enjoyed it. As with the other Narnia books, Amazon list this one for ages 9-12. At age 6, Evalina loved it. I'm sure some of it went over her head, but not too much. This one is a winner, and has an added bonus of giving you stepping stones to discuss some moral questions with your kids.

Evalina's "Book Report": I still haven't uploaded her pictures from the previous book. Oops. She said her favorite parts in this one were when Shasta and Bree met, when Aravis was being chased by a lion, and when they escape from Tashbaan, the city in Calormen. Hopefully, I'll get some pictures up soon.