The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1

Common Sense Media says

Classic Narnia chronicle has Christian themes.

Age(i)

2
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8
9
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Edmund, said by his siblings to be difficult, resents his older brother and aids the witch to spite the other children. The gender roles among the children are traditional, as when the girls are told they must avoid getting involved in an impending battle

Violence & scariness

Peter kills a wolf that attacks his sisters. The White Witch kills Aslan, though he is resurrected. A battle occurs, and combatants are killed or injured. The witch treats Edmund cruelly; the girls watch as her minions torment Aslan, who has allowed hims

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the plot and writing, although superior, are somewhat dated, and the art is small and simplistic. The language is simple but precise, and the main characters act valiantly to help save Narnia from the White Witch's enchantment (though one is initially caught under her sway). The story also contains bits of British culture, vivid descriptions of violent combat and is heavy on Christian allegory.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Young siblings discover that a wardrobe in an old country house is a portal to the magical land of Narnia. There, Edmund meets the evil White Witch and is lured into betraying his siblings, but the plot fails.

The lion Aslan, lord of Narnia, returns to the land, heralding the end of a long, joyless winter, and the children, who continue to elude the witch's grasp, meet with him.

The witch demands an audience with Aslan and announces that Edmund, exposed as a traitor, must die. Unknown to the others, Aslan agrees to take Edmund's place and submits to execution. However, he comes back to life and summons anarmy of woodland creatures and mythical characters in time to help Peter and the other children, including a repentant Edmund, defeat the witch's forces and bring peace to Narnia.

After years of ruling Narnia, the children return through the wardrobe to find that time has stood still.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Unlike the works of his friend and colleague J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia series does not stand up as well to the test of time. Written a half-century ago, this novel, occurring in an imaginary realm visited by children, is full of storyteller's asides and precious English children, and features an odd mix of childish adventure and bloody battles. His sometimes heavy-handed Christian allegory (Aslan sacrifices his life for the wayward Edmund and is resurrected) can also get overwhelming: One particularly disturbing scene has the two girls witnessing Aslan being trussed, sheared, and beaten by evil, gloating creatures, a nod to the indignity suffered by Christ before his crucifixion.

Young children who are read this story may enjoy the fairy-tale aspects, but older kids who are not fans of fantasy may be put off by the almost laughable repetition of scenes in which the children are comforted by the sudden availability of tea, and the way the forces of good seem to have too easy a time of it in vanquishing their foes. Other stories in the series are somewhat more fun -- try The Voyage of the Dawn Treader or The Magician's Nephew.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the messages Lewis' books send about the nature of good and evil. Why do you think Edmund chooses to betray his brother and sisters by running off to join the White Witch? Why can't Lucy get back into Narnia through the wardrobe any time she wants to? And why is there a lamppost in the Narnian forest (hint: try reading the first book in the Narnia chronicles, The Magician's Nephew, for some interesting background). If parents and children are familiar with Christianity, they can also discuss how the book's plot and characters are like various stories and people found in the Bible. For example, how is Aslan like Jesus Christ?

Book details

Author:C.S. Lewis
Illustrator:Pauline Baynes
Genre:Fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:January 1, 1950
Number of pages:208
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

This review of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 1 was written by

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Teen, 13 years old Written byGunnarman February 12, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

One of the best books ever made. Dead Serious.

This book is simply amazing. I have read all of The Chronicles of Narnia, and this one is the best by far. C.S. Lewis is one of the best writers in all of history. This book is great fantasy and if you don't like fantasy at all, then you won't like this. It is pure fantasy and is a great storie for children. When I first heard the storie as a little kid, I was just stunned. Highly recommended.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Parent of a 11, 15, and 18 year old Written byJulieKryger1970 January 5, 2009
AGE
5
QUALITY
 
Teen, 13 years old Written byavidcritc April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

transparent, but lovable

yeah, it's totally obvious that aslan is jesus. not subtle and all. but despite that (and i'm not even christian!) i still loved this book. my whole family got really into it one summer, so warning: get into it as much as you like, but no matter how good the author makes turkish delight sound, do yourself a favor and don't go out and try it. it is so, so gross.

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