Friday, May 28, 2010

C.S. Lewis: The Man Who Gave Us Narnia

C.S. Lewis is one of the greatest Christian authors of all time. Known best for his Chronicles of Narnia, as well as titles like Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters, Lewis' life is well worthy of retelling in books, films, and plays. In Renee Taft Meloche's C.S. Lewis: The Man Who Gave Us Narnia, the author attempts to offer a brief biography suitable for young children.

She chooses to write the book in rhyme - a daunting task. Beginning with "Jack"'s childhood full of fantasy, the author touches upon his mother's death and his dedication to the Bible. Later Jack fights in WWI and ends up in an English hospital, where he writes poems that are published at the war's end. He attends college and begins teaching. During WWII, he keeps children safe from bombings. Soon, he comes up with ideas for the Narnia books:
"And then a vision for a fairy
tale formed in Jack's head -
a story with a faun and with
a girl kind-spirited.

One day as Jack sat staring at
a wardrobe large and grand,
he wondered if it too could be
part of his story plan."

The rest of the book explains the basic storyline of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The author quotes the Christ figure Aslan about Heaven, then explains that Lewis died at 64.

What I Like: Throughout, the illustrations by Bryan Pollard are excellent. Impressionistic and expressive, they add great interest to the book. I also think the author did a nice job picking details from Lewis' life that will interest young kids who've read the Narnia books. The biography may also whet kids' appetites to read The Chronicles of Narnia for the first time.

What I Dislike:
The awkward phrasing is sometimes distracting. I wish the author had written this book in prose, not rhyme.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 4 - 8

Publishing Info: YWAM Publishing, 2008; ISBN: 978-1576584378; hardback, $6.99

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Special Info: Read our reviews of other C.S. Lewis biographies and books.

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