The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

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10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Illustrations: 10/10

Classic novel for children that can be enjoyed by adults as well

Religious theme might not be for everyone

 
Book Info

Book Title:  The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Publisher:  Geoffrey Bles

Writer:  C.S. Lewis

Illustrator:  Pauline Baynes

Release Date:  October 16, 1950

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1st Edition

The war is raging and the Pevensies children along with many other children have been rushed to countryside homes to protect them from the German bombings.  Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter find themselves at the massive home of a strange and mysterious professor and trying to entertain themselves as the rainy English days stretch on.  When Lucy discovers a portal to another world named Narnia within a wardrobe in a small spare room, the children find themselves on a great adventure to free the enslaved land of Narnia.  Unfortunately, Lucy, Peter, and Susan find they are at odds with their brother Edmund who has betrayed them to the wicked White Queen…and only the power of Aslan may prevail!

Written by C.S. Lewis and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the first volume in C.S. Lewis’ massively popular Chronicles of Narnia series and is frequently listed as not only one of the best books for children but often listed as one of the best books of the 20th Century.  The story has also been adapted to television and film a number of times.

I first read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe on a trip to Florida in third grade.  It was a big deal because I had seen the covers at the time, and they were one of the more popular books at our school.  I think I read the book two or three times before I got the box set of the other books which I would read over and over again (and yes, I still have them).

The book is a rather simple read and as a kid, you can generally even pick up on the religious overtones made by C.S. Lewis who was a very religious man and known for his religious writing at the time (he was told this book would ruin his reputation as a writer).  The book paints Aslan as a Jesus figure who dies for the sins of Edmund and is resurrected to free the land of the White Queen.  It is blatant, obvious, and this might not sit well with some parents or readers because of religious beliefs.

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Collier Edition

Despite this ingrained religious theme, the book’s story is solid for all readers.  I do have some issues with talking animals (in general), but this book works…maybe because I read it at a young age, but Lewis doesn’t make all the main characters entirely likable, and that is a rather brave thing to do when you expect them to all be liked by the end of the book.  Susan is overly motherly, Peter is brash, Edmund is a traitor, and Lucy is more of the touchstone for the readers.  Plus, Lewis creates a great villain in the White Queen which he expands upon in later books (making rereading The Chronicles of Narnia a worthwhile venture for young readers).

The book can be found with other illustrations, but I like the simple illustrations of Pauline Baynes.  Of course for a kid, books will be judged by their covers and the Collier editions of the book made me want to read them.  They were often simple, but I loved them and still associate them with the books and finding them in my school library.

The Chronicles of Narnia are a must read for children, and I highly recommend the original reading order.  The first published book was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe followed by Prince Caspian.  The second to last published book (The Magician’s Nephew) actually provided the origin of Narnia and is frequently now, the “1st” book in the Narnia series.  I much prefer the strangeness of Narnia (Why is the lamppost there?  Who is the White Queen?) and then be rewarded by discovering the truth later.  With the release of the films in 2005, 2008, and 2010, the order has been somewhat restored, but book collections still try to get readers to read The Magician’s Nephew first…Stick with how Lewis intended it (there is also a theory that A Horse and His Boy contains Lewis’ overall message and it falls in the exact middle of the series).  The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was followed by The Chronicles of Narnia:  Prince Caspian in 1951.

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Related Links:

The Chronicles of Narnia:  Prince Caspian

The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

The Chronicles of Narnia:  Prince Caspian (2008)

The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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