The Chronicles Of Narnia

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Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading – Lucy Mangan

Published April 11, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one.

She was whisked away to Narnia – and Kirrin Island – and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte’s Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home.

In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way.

Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate – and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

What did I think?:

Oh my goodness, what could be better than a book about books? My boyfriend got me this book as a gift and as a loud and proud bookworm, he couldn’t have got me anything better. Seriously, this must be how some girls feel when they’re given jewellery? Lucy Mangan’s thorough exploration of her childhood reading is beautifully nostalgic and warmed my heart. We hear small parts of Lucy’s own life but unlike other memoirs, as the title suggests, this book is focused purely on how different books have shaped the author’s life. As a bookish, rather solitary child myself, I nodded along with almost everything the author described. For example, the joys of being sent to your room as a punishment – hey, more time alone to read right? Or the delights of reading under your cover with a torch when you’re supposed to be sleeping, which made me very tired the next morning at school but strangely satisfied as I managed to finish the book I was reading!

From the delights of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Lucy takes us through books that meant something to her as a child and how they changed her as a person. Lucy is slightly older than me by six years so some of the books I wasn’t instantly familiar with but I had a bundle of fun researching them on Google, especially when she mentioned illustrators like Edmund Evans and Maurice Sendak. However, the cockles of my heart were well and truly warmed when she mentioned my own childhood favourites like C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles Of Narnia, the master that is Roald Dahl, the heart-break of Charlotte’s Web, the goddess of adventure stories that is Enid Blyton and of course, my own personal heroine, Judy Blume. Helpfully, the author also provides a complete list of all the books she mentions in the appendix and I have to admit to adding quite a few to my wish-list!

Bookworm: A Memoir Of Childhood Reading is a gorgeous, evocative read that will have you remembering the books that really made an impression on you when you were younger and leave you with a wistful urge to re-read them all over again. The only reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is that there were a few books that I didn’t know and so didn’t quite feel the same connection with as others. However, this is a fantastic journey back in time that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly anticipate reading again in the future next time I need a trip down memory lane. The style of Lucy Mangan’s writing really invites you in and makes you feel like you’re having a chat with a good friend about the favourite topic of any bookworm of course – BOOKS. I’ve got that fuzzy, gooey feeling all over again just talking about this book!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

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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.

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):

imagesCAF9JG4S

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