Quotable – Fairy Tales

There are books that the girls and I are reading each week that we find so fascinating and thought-provoking that we wish all of you were in the room with us so we could read them with you, as well.  Today, we simply wanted to share a quote from one of our favorite authors, C.S. Lewis.  It is what we are thinking about this week:

“You and I who still enjoy fairy tales have less reason to wish actual childhood back.  We have kept its pleasures and added some grown-up ones as well.”

 - C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (1953)

‘The Magician’s Nephew’ – Tuesday’s Look at this Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room, and give you a unique “recipe for fun” this week over on our Book Cook page.

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Today’s great book: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (1955, HarperCollins)

The Author’s Book Website:  https://www.cslewis.com/us

Time to Read: about two weeks (we read before bedtime each night)

Summary:  from the author’s website…”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.  Discover the magical lands of Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew, the first title in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has enchanted readers of all ages for over sixty years.”

Best Quote:  “Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,Strike the bell and bide the danger,Or wonder, till it drives you mad,What would have followed if you had.”

Our View:  This is one in the series of The Chronicles of Narnia that I had never read until just a few weeks ago.  Being that this is the first one in that famous landmark book series, I am amazed that I had never read it until now.  While it brings the world of Narnia to us for the first time and introduces characters and locations (such as the lampost!) that we will see throughout the series, it also gives a backstory unlike any other series I have read and it is action-packed, funny, and harrowing from chapter one.  The entire work is exciting and interesting and full of time-travel style mystery and wonder and fear and adventure and risk, but the chapter that I will never forget is entitled “The Bell and the Hammer.”  I was reading it aloud to the girls and truly lost myself in it – and that doesn’t happen very often, even though I love to read, because it is usually at night after a long day and I am tired anyway.  But this chapter, all I can tell you is that if you read this one chapter, it will force you to buy the book and read it aloud to your children!  One great book and one great experience for us all.

Remember to visit our Book Cook page for the recipe - “Delightfully Delicious Disappearing Delicacy - created by the kids to accompany this particular book.

Living Here and There

A few nights ago, my kids were dreaming about what it would be like to have their own bookstore. They had so many ideas about what it would look like, but the most intriguing one was their plan for the front door. They have always been fans of C.S. Lewis and his classic Narnia series, so they decided that they would build a very large old-fashioned wardrobe for customers to walk through as they enter and exit the store. You might remember that is how the Pevensie children made their way into and out of Narnia.

It was a neat idea, but it became even more wonderful when our middle daughter explained her reasoning for the idea. She said, “For customers, it would be like leaving the real world and entering one more magical…and when they leave it would be sad, like leaving Narnia for the real world.”

At our house, I think summertime is much like Narnia – we love it around here because it is a definite pause in the roller coaster that is the year that exists on either side of it. Yes, we still work and do laundry and cook and pay bills and worry and laugh and cry and…live. But even with all of that, we still have time to just be. It is as though our summers are a lifetime away from the busyness of the school year.

Everyone here is connected to school life, my wife and I are part-time college professors and our kids are in different grades and schools across the city. This is why summer is so important to us. It always offers us a different pace…and we take full advantage if it. The kids are not tied to any particular activity away from home and they can take their time just being themselves and thinking and playing and cooking and reading and wondering. It’s a ride-your-bike, sleep-in-late and go-to-bed-later kind of world for them.

Next week at this time, school will have started and tickets to the roller coaster that this season brings will go quickly. We are indeed leaving “Narnia” through that wardrobe and coming back into the real world. A bit reluctant yes, but not downcast, for we are preparing for the adventures of the real world, too.

Here is how Lewis ended his great book on the subject – “And that is the very end of the adventures of the wardrobe. But if the Professor was right it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia.”

Lewis Wardrobe

Books and Candy

We were talking with a friend last week when the subject turned to, of all things, Turkish Delight. Have you heard of it? My introduction to the candy came when I read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (first published in 1950) as a boy – but it gained wider popularity when the sugary confection was used so well in the movie of that book that debuted in 2005. Our friend insisted that we try some, so we ordered the variety box – rose, mint, hazelnut, pistachio, lime, and lemon – and it’s really pretty good.

Turkish Delight and a great book!

I remember when our daughter was in elementary school and one of her outstanding teachers read the book to the class and then masterminded the coolest Narnia party I had ever seen. Turkish Delight was THE dessert at that party and my daughter and her friends were so intrigued by it, especially because of the way Lewis used it in his book as the sweet element that would lure the boy Edmund into the White Witch’s sour world.

During that time, our daughter would come home from school and relate nearly every detail of the book to us – her teacher was reading it to them every day, a few pages at a time. The only way I know to describe what I saw in her eyes and heard in her voice then was just how it struck her young imagination with such force. The book represented to her mind such a different kind of adventure, a literary work of importance in which the characters were so well-developed and thoroughly interesting that, to her, it didn’t feel like the “normal” children’s book. It was as though the author thought she was smart enough to get it..a chapter book with many unusual and descriptive words, just a few well-placed illustrations, intriguing locations such as Cair Paravel and the Castle of the Four Thrones, and…Turkish Delight.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest,” and, “No book is really worth reading at age ten which is not equally (and often far more) worth reading at the age of fifty – except, of course, books of information. The only imaginative works we ought to grow out of are those which it would have been better not to have read at all.”

I couldn’t agree more, especially after reading so many children’s stories (picture books, novels, and series) with my daughters over the past 18 years. Choosing a book to read with your kids is a special undertaking, so as another great adventure movie character once taught us, “Choose, but choose wisely.” A variety box of Turkish Delight (choose wisely here too) doesn’t hurt either.

Look for the recipe for Turkish Delight on our Book Cook page!