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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first book published in C.S. Lewis' classic Chronicles of Narnia series, which children have loved for generations. Lewis, a devout Christian, weaves lots of Christian allegory into the book (and the series as a whole), but the story can be enjoyed on many levels, by all kinds of readers. Expect several violent scenes, including a large battle (axes, clubs, and more are used, and characters are injured and die) and -- spoiler alert! -- the tense, scary, sad death of a major character. Creepy, evil creatures are also described; their leader is the White Witch, who is cruel and shows no mercy. The main characters are clear role models who valiantly help save Narnia from the Witch; even the one who initially falls under her sway learns his lesson, showing the power of repentance and forgiveness. The book was adapted for a movie in 1988 and again for the blockbuster 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. An excellent audiobook version is narrated by British actor Michael York.
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What's the story?
In THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, the four Pevensie siblings -- Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy -- 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. Meanwhile, the lion Aslan, lord of Narnia, returns to the land, heralding the end of the Witch's long, joyless winter; the children, who continue to elude the Witch's grasp, meet with him. Before their adventure is done, they'll face fierce battle, devastating loss, and glorious triumph, all while learning lessons about faith, forgiveness, and more.
Is it any good?
Anyone who's ever dreamed of living in a world where animals can talk is going to enjoy the Pevensies' Narnian escapades. Originally published in 1950, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is full of storyteller's asides and precious English children, with a mix of adventure and serious battles. Those who know the story is full of Christian allegory (spoiler alert! Aslan sacrifices himself for the wayward Edmund and is resurrected) are likely to spot it everywhere, but some children may simply enjoy the book's fairy-tale aspects. Yes, perhaps the forces of good sometimes seem to have too easy a time vanquishing their foes, and, yes, the writing style is now somewhat dated, but this is still a classic series that young fantasy fans will thoroughly enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the messages The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (and the other Narnia books) sends about the nature of good and evil. Why do you think Edmund runs off to join the White Witch? What does he learn during his time with her? What does his journey teach readers?
Parents and kids familiar with Christianity can 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?
For readers who aren't Christian, do you think you need to share Lewis' faith to enjoy the story? Why or why not?
How do you think the book might be different if it was written today?
- Author: C.S. Lewis
- Illustrator: Pauline Baynes
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: January 1, 1950
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 208
- Last updated: December 13, 2019
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