The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe & The Horse and His Boy.
I’ve been waiting years for the right time to read the Narnia books with my little girl. My husband tried The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe with her when she was about 5, but it was too early. The witch was too scary and as for the stone table part… well, don’t go there.
But 8 and a half could be the age for it. The order has changed. Rather than by publication date they are now presented in the chronological order of events, and that was how my methodically minded daughter insisted we read them. But that’s ok, it’s a fresh perspective and I get to read the books I’d be waiting for otherwise.
So first up was The Magician’s Nephew, a favourite of mine. I love the vibe you get of the Edwardian era from a child’s perspective. Everything feels taller and darker. The gloom of the passage between Polly’s and Digory’s attics makes the candles of Polly’s den shine that much more brightly, giving it an almost magical importance.
These passageways weren’t unusual in stretches of old terraced houses. We had something similar in the house I grew up in. But in our home, access to the loft was through a hatch in the ceiling with a ladder, which was quite terrifying to little old me. So no, I never did find a treasure map in the attic of the house three doors along. (I do have an idea filed away in my head for a children’s book involving attics like these, but that idea has to wait in line).
Discovering Narnia with Polly and Digory made a refreshing change to starting with Lucy and the wardrobe. It explained where the wardrobe and the witch came from – something my daughter would have been asking about otherwise.
It hasn’t encouraged her to eat apples though.
Skip on to The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was like revisiting old friends and taking my girl along to show her the sights. Edmund was vile, Peter was a bit of a stuffed shirt. (What is it about older brothers? There’s Peter in the Secret Seven and Julian in the Famous Five too. I don’t think the younger set would allow it these days, there’d be a lot more rebellion in the ranks). I always quite liked Susan, although she doesn’t tend to get a good press in reviews.
I suppose to some extent she’s the substitute ‘grown-up’ and as such doesn’t get to shine. She is after all (later) supposed to be a fantastic archer, but her stroppy nature tends to get highlighted instead. Perhaps I feel for Susan because Lucy gets all the attention. As a youngest child myself I used to get rather fed up of them always being portrayed as golden haired and sweet (I suspect I was neither). Maybe there’s a place for Susan’s story to be told one day?
But I’m straying from the point. Needless to say, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe was a huge romping success all round and we stormed on to The Horse and his Boy.
And we’ve run aground a bit there. She’s enjoying it, but having trouble following what’s going on. All the thee’s and thou’s and the Calormene culture are clogging things up a bit.
It may be too much too soon, and I think I was older by the time I read this book (by myself) and was more open to an exotic setting. I’d read the books in the traditional order, so knew more about Narnian creatures and history etc. So we’ve paused for a while and will pick it up again later. (I’m particularly looking forward to ‘The Silver Chair’ but it may be a few years away – in fact she’ll probably be reading them alone then…)