Aslan

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2018 – JANUARY READ – The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Published January 31, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Lucy and Edmund, with their dreadful cousin Eustace, get magically pulled into a painting of a ship at sea. That ship is the Dawn Treader, and on board is Caspian, King of Narnia. He and his companions, including Reepicheep, the valiant warrior mouse, are searching for seven lost lords of Narnia, and their voyage will take them to the edge of the world. Their adventures include being captured by slave traders, a much-too-close encounter with a dragon, and visits to many enchanted islands, including the place where dreams come true.

What did I think?:

I really can’t believe this is my fifth year of the Kid Lit challenge I participate in with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads. This is one of our favourite challenges to do and we always love picking the books we’re going to be reading for the year. Every year, we’re slowly making our way through entire series and The Narnia Chronicles is one of those so it was fitting that we chose the fifth book, The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader as our first book for 2018. As an adult reading it, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I remember it being one of my favourites as a child but I couldn’t remember any major details about it, apart from it being set on a ship so I was looking forward to re-discovering it and finding out whether it was still one of my preferred books in the series.

By and large, I really enjoyed this fifth novel, it was lovely to see two of the characters from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Lucy and Edmund (which were also my two favourites) back again in Narnia and off on another adventure, meeting up with old and new friends and learning a few lessons on the way which C.S. Lewis fondly slots in on a regular basis! They enter Narnia this time through the painting of a ship and manage to bring along a rather unwelcome visitor, their cousin Eustace who does nothing but complain, shirk any hard work, make horrible remarks and generally acts rather unpleasantly until he is taught quite a valuable lesson of his own. The children are on board The Dawn Treader, a Narnian ship in the company of their friend and current ruler of Narnia, Prince Caspian and the wonderful brave mouse, Reepicheep. Their quest is to find out what happened to the old Lords of Narnia, explore forgotten lands and generally have many exciting adventures.

I was really surprised when I read this novel that I actually didn’t remember anything about the plot at all! I remember Eustace as a character, let’s face it, he’s kind of difficult to forget but the rest of the adventures that the children have and the strange lands they discovered I didn’t recall in the slightest. That’s not a bad thing at all, in fact it felt like a fresh, new story to devour and I did enjoy many moments of it. As I mentioned, it was wonderful to be back with Lucy and Edmund again and even Eustace improves on further acquaintance, especially when he goes through a traumatic body-shifting experience of his own. One of the things I adored most about this story though was the illustrations in my copy on my Kindle, which I’ve been lucky to have with all the Narnia books so far. They’re so gorgeous, make me smile even if I’m at a slower point of the narrative and just all around make my heart incredibly happy.

This is also the first book where if I hand’t known whom C.S. Lewis meant Aslan to represent, I think I would have probably guessed – it felt a lot more obvious. This kind of thing really doesn’t bother me though, I’m not especially religious but I don’t have any problems with it either, if it’s a great story with some fascinating creatures and exciting adventures, that’s good enough for me!

For Chrissi’s fantastic review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT UP IN FEBRUARY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT 2018: Matilda by Roald Dahl.

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2017 – JANUARY READ – Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

Published January 31, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Pevensie siblings are back to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.

What did I think?:

Welcome to the first book of Kid Lit 2017! Chrissi and I have chosen to continue with the Chronicles of Narnia series as we’ve been reading it from when we first started blogging four years ago and I especially really wanted to read right until the very end. We are also reading in chronological order rather than publication order, so Prince Caspian is the fourth book in the Narnia adventures and one I don’t really remember from when I read the series as a child so I was keen to re-discover it.

I was delighted to find that our favourite siblings from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe are back in the magical land of Narnia, called back from Susan’s magical horn, given to her from the great Aslan himself. The horn summons help when the user is in need and the user, Prince Caspian is in dire straits indeed. He is the rightful heir to the throne of Narnia but the kingship has been taken over by the wicked King Miraz and his band of soldiers, the Telmarines. They reject all the “old Narnian” ways, even by punishing people talking about the old days and the talking creatures that are left have fled into hiding to escape persecution/certain death.

Prince Caspian, the true king, is now a threat to King Miraz and is helped to flee by his tutor, a half-dwarf who puts him in touch with the Old Narnians, two dwarfs and a kindly badger called Trufflehunter. They in turn round up all the other talking creatures to form a war council (with some of the most wonderful characters I have ever read about!) and summon the ancient rulers of Narnia – Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy back from England. The siblings find Narnia completely changed from when they were last Kings and Queens. Cair Paravel has gone to ruin, the creatures in the trees have all gone to sleep and all the other talking creatures daren’t show their faces for fear of what would happen under King Miraz. However, Lucy swears that she keeps seeing Aslan through the trees and perhaps with his help, they can put Prince Caspian in his rightful place and return Narnia to how it used to be.

I’m always going to love going back into the world of Narnia I think, no matter how long it has been. Prince Caspian started very promisingly and took me straight back to that magical place, especially when we got to the talking creatures (which made me do a silent fist pump, I have to admit). Like Mr Tumnus and Mr and Mrs Beaver in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe we have a whole host of loveable animals to coo over but the absolute best and I’m sure Chrissi would agree was the delightful head of the mouse army – Reepicheep who also has the honour of having the cover of the book. He was completely adorable, I loved his attitude, his bravery and his determination and was definitely one of my highlights of the book.

Apart from that, it was lovely to catch up with the Pevensie siblings and even if Susan irritated me slightly in this outing it was quite sobering to realise that the next book in the series may feature just two of the original foursome. The only slight issues I have with the book is the ending which unfortunately I feel was just too rushed and perhaps slightly confusing for younger readers. As for the religious references, to be honest, I don’t really read it like that. I’m aware of it as an adult but it doesn’t seem terribly overt and obvious and I just appreciate it for the fantasy and great adventure story that it is.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review check out her post HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP IN FEBRUARY ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT 2017: The Cuckoo Sister by Vivian Alcock

 

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2016 – MAY READ – The Horse And His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Published May 31, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Horse and his Boy is a stirring and dramatic fantasy story that finds a young boy named Shasta on the run from his homeland with the talking horse, Bree. When the pair discover a deadly plot by the Calormen people to conquer the land of Narnia, the race is on to warn the inhabitants of the impending danger and to rescue them all from certain death.

What did I think?:

When Chrissi and I first started doing our Kid Lit challenge, the Narnia books were an absolute must as they formed such a staple part of our own childhood reading. We also wanted to read them in the order recommended by the author, C.S. Lewis, the third of which is The Horse And His Boy. It’s quite strange as I didn’t have fond memories of this particular volume in the epic saga – in fact, I think it was probably my least favourite so I was quite shocked to discover that I actually enjoyed it a lot more when reading it as an adult! I was also pleasantly surprised by the re-emergence of favourite characters from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, something I hadn’t remembered being part of it previously.

The story is set some time after the events of the second book and Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy have had a few happy years reigning over Narnia from Cair Paravel. They play somewhat secondary characters in this novel however, our star turn and hero of the proceedings is Shasta, a young boy who does not remember his real parents but has been raised by a fisherman who treats him as little more than a skivvy and has no qualms about striking a deal with a mysterious and exotic stranger who wishes him to be his personal slave. Shasta happens to overhear their conversation, is frightened and confides in the stranger’s beautiful horse, not expecting for one second that the horse will a) understand him and b) talk back! For the horse, Bree is actually a slave himself and was originally a “free” horse from the land of Narnia where talking animals are quite the norm. He convinces Shasta to run away with him and escape to Narnia where he tells the boy that he bears a striking resemblance to the people that live in the North.

So, the adventure begins and what an adventure it is! Soon after they start on the road, Shasta and Bree come across another rider, Aravis and her horse Hwin (also a talking horse from Narnia – what are the odds?) and they team up so that they can travel to Narnia together. Aravis is a rich daughter of a very powerful man who has made plans for her marriage to a very nasty old man, Grand Vizier to the Tisroc (King) of the Calormen people and she is also running away to try and escape her fate. Of course, what kind of adventure story would this be without danger, wicked villains, new friendships, a deadly plot to attack the land of Narnia and a fabulous battle sequence? The unlikely foursome soon become a force to be reckoned with in their attempts to warn Narnia of the dastardly plans and Shasta finally learns the surprising secret of who he really is.

As I mentioned before, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book considering I had originally considered it the weakest of The Chronicles Of Narnia. The characters were wonderful, especially brave little Shasta and his proud war-horse Bree but I also loved that the author provided us with a strong female character in Aravis. Of course, it was lovely to see old favourites like Mr Tumnus the faun, the children from The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and obviously the mighty Aslan who makes some very welcome cameo appearances throughout the novel. This book has a lot of other great things going for it in the form of a clever plot and some strong “love-to-hate-them” villains who, of course, get their comeuppance in some very humorous ways. Finally, anything which has talking animals in it is already a winner in my eyes and the Narnia books are both unforgettable and obvious classics in the world of children’s literature.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

 

 

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2015 – MAY READ – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Published May 31, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy took their first steps into the world behind the magic wardrobe, little do they realise what adventures are about to unfold. And as the story of Narnia begins to unfold, so to does a classic tale that has enchanted readers of all ages for over half a century.

What did I think?:

In 2014, Chrissi and I covered the first book in the Narnia series, The Magician’s Nephew (please see my review HERE). We both loved the world of Narnia as children so we thought it only proper that we continue reviewing the series as part of our Kid-Lit challenge. So, in 2015 here comes number two in the order that C.S. Lewis would prefer readers to approach the series, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It was adapted fairly recently into a Hollywood blockbuster film but before that it was adapted for television first in 1967 and again in 1988-90 as part of a successful BBC television series which I vividly recall enjoying. There has even been an animated series in 1979 winning itself an Emmy in the process for Outstanding Animated Program. This was recorded for us by our parents and must have been the most watched video in our household! Finally, it has also been dramatised for BBC Radio 4 and appeared on the stage in the UK, USA, Philippines and Australia.

So if you’ve been living under a rock for a while, here’s what the book is all about. Four siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are evacuated from London during the war and sent to live in a huge house in the countryside owned by a Professor Kirke (Digory Kirke from The Magician’s Nephew actually) and a disgruntled housekeeper Mrs Macready who does not fancy the idea of four children under her feet. Luckily for her, the children choose to keep out of “the Macready’s” way and during a game of Hide and Seek the youngest child Lucy discovers the magical land of Narnia when she hides in a wardrobe. The first person she meets is a charming Faun called Mr Tumnus who tells Lucy that Narnia is under the terrible spell of The White Witch who makes it always winter and never Christmas and turns any animal who crosses her into stone with a flick of her magic wand. Mr Tumnus also tells her that she has paid him to bring any Daughter of Eve (human girl) or Son of Adam (human boy) to her if he should ever encounter them in the forest. There is an ancient prophecy about four children filling the thrones at Cair Paravel castle which would mean the end of the White Witch’s reign so she has a right to be slightly worried. Of course, Tumnus is a good old faun really and helps Lucy to get home quickly before she can be spotted by any of the Witch’s other spies.

Lucy is excited to tell her sister and brothers all about the fantastical world she has been to but even though it feels as if she has been gone hours only a few seconds of time have passed in “our world,” so her siblings believe she is making it up. It doesn’t help matters when Edmund manages to enter Narnia also and when begged by Lucy to admit that the world exists, he maintains that she is lying which distresses her greatly. Of course the four children manage to enter Narnia eventually but it looks like it isn’t going to be all dancing and sunbeams when they discover poor Mr Tumnus has been taken prisoner by the White Witch for daring to interact with her enemies. To top it all off with a big cherry Edmund has gone over to the dark side with promises of Turkish Delight and king-making from the Witch. All four children are now in grave danger and so is Narnia as without Edmund the prophecy cannot be fulfilled. But the silver lining if you want to see it is that the mysterious and all-powerful Aslan is on the move and he just might be able to save everything.

It was absolutely lovely to read this story again as an adult and I enjoyed it just as much as when I was a child. The beautiful writing of C.S. Lewis brings the world of Narnia alive to the reader with all of its power and danger. He writes so assuredly that you can believe a robin can lead the way, a beaver can use a sewing machine, a bull can have the head of a man and vice versa and a lion can come back from the dead. The White Witch was one of the first villains in literature that I both feared and hated and I even felt myself melting again as Edmund was reconciled with his brother and sisters. I know that a lot of people have poked fun at the Christian allegories – for example, Aslan on the Stone Table and The White Witch aka Satan but even though I am more aware of this as an adult it did not affect my pleasure in reading it at all. When all is said and done, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is a fantastic story that continues to thrill children and adults alike without even considering religion as an issue. I mean, talking animals, a great “baddie,” and some hideous creatures… what more do you need? This for me is an unrivalled children’s classic that I hope people will continue to read for many years to come.

For Chrissi’s fab review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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aslan

“ROAR!” from the animated version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

http://www.animatedviews.com

narnia bench

The beautiful Narnia book bench which was displayed in London last year (2014)

http://www.booksabouttown.org.uk

Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2014 – APRIL READ – The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Published April 29, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

When Digory and Polly are tricked by Digory’s peculiar Uncle Andrew into becoming part of an experiment, they set off on the adventure of a lifetime. What happens to the children when they touch Uncle Andrew’s magic rings is far beyond anything even the old magician could have imagined.

Hurtled into the Wood between the Worlds, the children soon find that they can enter many worlds through the mysterious pools there. In one world they encounter the evil Queen Jadis, who wreaks havoc in the streets of London when she is accidentally brought back with them. When they finally manage to pull her out of London, unintentionally taking along Uncle Andrew and a coachman with his horse, they find themselves in what will come to be known as the land of Narnia.

What did I think?:

My childhood is filled with memories of the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis and what better way to re-visit them as to include them in the Kid-Lit Challenge that I participate in with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads? I had a beautiful box set of the Narnia books as a child although when I read them over and over again they began to look a little worn! What I remember most about the books was the beautiful illustrations within and when I downloaded The Magician’s Nephew to my Kindle I was thrilled to see that the pictures were still there. Although C.S. Lewis actually wrote this book after his most famed book in the series, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, this book is written so that it should be read first if you are starting the series. After all, this is when we first meet Aslan the majestic Lion, the terrifying, cruel and power-hungry White Witch, and discover how that famous Wardrobe ended up being a doorway into the magical land of Narnia.

The story starts by introducing us to two children, Polly and Digory. Digory is living with his very strange and mysterious Uncle Andrew as his beloved mother is bed-bound, very ill and not likely to recover any time soon. Digory is pleased to meet Polly to help take his mother’s plight off his mind and the two children soon become fast friends. When exploring the hidden passageways between their houses however the two children end up in Uncle Andrew’s forbidden study by mistake. They are mortified, but Uncle Andrew seems unusually pleased and invites Polly to try on a beautiful ring which when she does so, makes her disappear into thin air. You see, Uncle Andrew is quite a devious and selfish man and has been experimenting with magic (usually with guinea pigs, but unfortunately they don’t give very good feedback). He explains to Digory that he must now go after Polly if he wants to see his friend again and gives him a second ring for both of them of a different colour i.e. the “homeward” ring while telling him that he expects the full details of the magical place of which he is too cowardly himself to visit.

The two children end up visiting the ancient city of Charn, where all they find are ruins and a set of stone individuals dressed as if they were rulers with the most beautiful and extravagant clothing they have ever seen. One woman in particular stands out – she is incredibly tall and beautiful and has a regal sense of confidence that overwhelms them. Then they notice a small bell with a poem attached, warning of the consequences of ringing it, but it is too tempting for Digory and despite Polly’s pleas he rings it. Oh dear… they appear to have woken Queen Jadis aka The White Witch. And to make things worse, she manages to get back to London with them when they slip their homeward rings on and decides she is going to take over the country (killing anyone who gets in her way of course!). Their Uncle Andrew at first appears like a puppy dog, calling her a “dem fine woman,” and then is reduced to her slave as she causes mayhem around London. Digory and Polly know they must get her back to where she belongs and manage to get close enough to touch her while putting on their rings, but also manage to take back with them a snivelling Uncle Andrew, a cabby and his horse Strawberry.

When the group arrive back in the magical world, it is quite dark and nothing appears to exist until they hear the beautiful sound of singing which leads to grass sprouting, trees growing, and even animals being created from the ground upwards. Digory remarks that it is the stags that are most interesting to watch developing as their antlers come up first which tricks him into thinking they are trees. The children then realise that the song is coming from a large, golden lion whom, once the world has been created, gives a select number of animals the power of speech, names the world Narnia and mentions that although the world is not yet very old, a great evil has already entered it. (Yup, that’s you Jadis). Aslan requests the help of Polly and Digory to protect Narnia from The White Witch by going on an adventure to find a very special apple which when planted will grow into a tree that will shield Narnia from Jadis and her terrible powers.

I loved this book just as much as I did as a child although now as an adult it is easier for me to see the parallels with religion – creation of the world in Genesis, Aslan as God, The White Witch as the Devil/serpent who tries to tempt Digory with the knowledge that if he does not take the magical apple back to Aslan he could cure his sick mother. It reads nonetheless as a fantastic adventure tale and magical story before the days of  Harry Potter that I still think would captivate children today. The characters are fantastically realised and the reader has a whole different mixture of people to idolise, terrify and laugh at to makes it a memorable and classic piece of literature. It’s also nice to read a book where the characters have obvious flaws, or make mistakes and have to deal with the consequences – I’m thinking of Digory ringing the bell (WHY did he do it?) or Uncle Andrew messing around with a magic that he knows little about as cases for example. I’m just really glad that I still enjoyed this book as an adult, and would happily continue with reading the rest of the series.

Please see Chrissi’s post HERE for her fabulous review!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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