Archive for ‘Children’s’

August 17th, 2012

The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: The Magician’s Nephew

Author: C. S. Lewis

Published: 1995

Number of Pages: 202

Rating: 5/5


The adventure begins

Narnia … where Talking Beasts walk … where a witch waits … where a new world is about to be born.

On a daring quest to save a life, two friends are hurled into another world, where an evil sorceress seeks to enslave them. But then the lion Aslan’s song weaves itself into the fabric of a new land, a land that will be known as Narnia. And in Narnia, all things are possible …

When Digory and Polly try to return the wicked witch Jadis to her own world, the magic gets mixed up and they all land in Narnia where they witness Aslan blessing the animals with human speech.


What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.


Well, apparently, this summer has been quite busier than I previously expected. I apologize sincerely for the month-long gap. In that time, I have read The Fellowship of the Ring (the first of the Lord of the Rings series), The Magician’s Nephew (the first of the Chronicles of Narnia), and have gotten mid-way through Two Towers (book two of the LOTR). Ideally, I will have reviews for them all posted by the end of the summer.

And without further ado…

The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, as I said before, is the first of the Chronicles of Narnia. I read about half of them years ago, but remember very little of them. How I managed to forget Lewis’s incredible symbolism, cleverness, and humor is beyond me. Upon rereading this book, I’ve become eager to read the rest.

Many people are familiar with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It’s certainly one of the most beloved Lewis novels. However, this book proves that Lewis’s brilliance is present in his other novels as well – perhaps even to a greater degree. Reading this book now, older and prepared to truly appreciate it, I marveled at the work Lewis did to tell this story.

Undoubtedly, my Christian upbringing enriched The Magician’s Nephew. Every chapter held something that I could relate to something scriptural. I loved this. Not only because it was fascinating to see how Lewis managed it, but because I felt I was reading something worthwhile and beneficial. However, you need not have a similar background in order too apprciate the story and characters themselves.

The characters, Digory and Polly, are quintessential little children from the time period. Their behaviors are always in character, yet Lewis accounts for natural diversions from the expected. Both of the children made decisions throughout the book that demonstrated their increasing development. I could not help but be glad that, though cute and fun, both kids were deliciously human. Similarly, the “magician,” Digory’s uncle, is very human… in a less positive way. His greediness and shallow character made him very fun to dislike.

And then there’s Aslan. What can a person say about Aslan that is not entirely positive? His wisdom and empathy are admirable and beautiful. Who would have thought a giant cat could be so wonderful?

If you’re not the type to be intrigued by symbolism and character, there’s most certainly something here for you. The worlds themselves are confusing in an intriguing way, and there’s a perfectly fabulous villain to spice things up. Jadis and her interactions with other people are hilarious and terrifying at the same time. As a reader, I certainly knew what was at stake and who I would cheer for.

This book builds the world that Lewis and his characters continue to explore in later novels. The birth of Narnia is breathtaking, particularly when written in Lewis’s style – beautifully detailed in a uniquely witty way (and with many parentheses).

Ultimately, any lover of fantasy, AND/OR symbolism, AND/OR adventure, AND/OR character, AND/OR Narnia itself is bound to appreciate some aspect of this unique story. I can honestly say I have never read anything quite like it. Because of its depth and the many ways one could interpret parts of it, I recommend this book as a book club book. Because of its entertaining qualities and enjoyable lessons, I recommend this book as a book to read your children. Because of its myriad enriching qualities, I recommend it to everyone.

July 2nd, 2012

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie; Review

by Madeleine Rex

Title: Peter Pan

Author: J.M. Barrie

Published: 1906 (Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens), 1911 (Peter and Wendy)

Number of Pages: 287

Rating: 5/5

In Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, J.M. Barrie first created Peter Pan as a baby, living a wild and secret life with birds and fairies in the middle of London. Later Barrie let this remarkable child grow a little older and he became the boy-hero of Neverland, making his first appearance, with Wendy, Captain Hook, and the Lost Boys, in Peter and Wendy. The Peter Pan stories were Barrie’s only works for children but, as their persistent popularity shows, their themes of imaginative escape continue to charm even those who long ago left Neverland. This is the first edition to include both texts in one volume and the first to a present an extensively annotated text for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. [From Goodreads]


I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m a little bird that has broken out of its egg.


Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve written one of these! This summer is off to a great start, and returning to blogging will improve it even more. Anyway, without further ado, my review of Peter Pan

The edition I read includes Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens as well as the better-known Peter and Wendy (the story Disney uses for its animated movie adaptation). I am glad I read both, as Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens is an entirely different story than the one most of us know. In this case, Peter is a week-old baby, never to grow any older, and practically stuck in Kensington Gardens. The story follows little Peter through some odd adventures and, though short, gives one a nice taste of J.M. Barrie’s clever sweetness and undeniably masterful use of the English language.

I found Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens to be a curious story, but still the sort that crawls right into my heart and makes a nice little nest there. Small lines that might escape a reader’s notice are what made me love it, such as, “To have faith is to have wings.” and “David tells me that fairies never say ‘We feel happy’: what they say is, ‘We feel dancey’.”

J.M. Barrie’s style reminded me of L.M. Montgomery’s because it’s evident he appreciates the seemingly innocuous things in life that, when compiled, are actually what make life lovely.

Peter and Wendy is the Peter Pan story we are all familiar with. The rambunctious and irresistible little boy draws three children to him and flies away with them to Neverland, where young Wendy becomes the “mother” of a bunch of Lost Boys who have, until then, been in dire need of mothering (though some might deny it). Peter and Wendy was originally a play (J.M. Barrie was an immensely popular playwright), but he later recreated it in book form. I could not at all tell that it was not originally written as a novel. The prose is immaculate. I recommend reading the book first, if you are not accustomed to reading scripts.

Admittedly, I hardly remembered the Disney story before I read the book, so I cannot tell you how similar the two are. However, I can assure you that Peter and Wendy is a darling book, full of adventure and mischief, that is bound to win you over, and is also the perfect story to read to your children.

One of my favorite parts of the book was Wendy’s home-making skills. How cute it was, to watch a little girl play house! And the reactions of the boys, without mothers for as long as they can remember, was adorable.

After reading Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, a reader knows Peter’s backstory and how he came to be without a mother. This knowledge made his reaction to Wendy even more heart-wrenching, and is one reason I recommend you read both.

Whether you find the relationships between characters interesting or not, Peter and Wendy‘s adventure is sure to entertain. The surprisingly complex Captain Hook is a doozy and rather hard to understand, but the men on his crew are the quintessential bumbling pirates. Peter’s cleverness and “cockiness” (possibly the word most frequently used to describe him in the book) are hilarious. And did I mention Tink? What a twerp. I love her.

Whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it in Peter Pan. Tenderness, adventure, comedy, and especially cockiness – it’s all here, written in a way that is fantastically fun to read. Next time you’re looking for something altogether unique, pick up Peter Pan.