Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia

With all the movie buzz, The Chronicles of Narnia will be good books to start with. These books are favorites of mine and my boys. We read them all two years ago when my boys were 6, 5, and 3 years old. They absolutely loved them. The writing is excellent (in fact it made it hard to take up other books- the writing clearly paled in comparison), the action and adventure is compelling, and the messages are wonderful as well. I cannot recommend them too strongly. I read them and loved them as a kid (and still as an adult!), and my boys have as well. It is fun to find my boys playing outside and hear that they are playing “Narnia”!

You can find the books in other forms. First, of course, there is the movie just released. I enjoyed the movie, and I think it was the most faithful adaptation to movie of any book I have ever seen. However, ‘the movie’ is never as good as ‘the book.’ It never can be. Various aspects of the book were missing or changed from the book- too many to list, though topping my list would be the significant lessening of the heroism of the children and the absence of the discussion of Aslan as not a tame lion in the conversation in the beavers’ home. Also, I will not take my children to the movie yet because I think it will be frightening to some of them just yet. I am glad that the movie has been made and hope it does well, but it cannot hold a candle to the book.

More compelling to me are audio versions of the book. Harper Audio has a well done audio book version featuring the reading of the full text of the books by Michael York. York does an excellent job changing his voice for characters and inflecting his voice. We only have The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in this collection, but we have really enjoyed it. This book comes on four CDs and runs for four hours.

Another exciting edition is Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre version of the entire series. This differs from the York CD in that it is not a straight reading of the book but a dramatized audio complete with background sounds, multiple voice actors, etc. This one is also well done and a favorite in my family. Once my father was visiting and heard one of the CDs while riding with us. He went home and immediately bought himself a copy and has listened to it multiple times.

So, I recommend the books themselves first and then the audio versions. With these we have covered the books various times with the result that the books are gradually working themselves into the basic psyche of my family- a thing for which I rejoice.

NOTE: I looked back at my annual lists of books read and saw I had previously given the worng ages of my boys when we first read the Narnia books. In case others are wondering about ages for their own children I have corrected the ages now.


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