Tag: c.s. lewis

Ten of My Favorite Adventure Stories

Nap time settles over our house. Those small enough to sleep, sleep. Those too big for naps go into their separate rooms armed with books—many books. I briefly consider washing the dishes from lunch or checking my email, but a breeze sweeps in the screen door and it smells like—oh, like the summers of childhood or something, so I step outside to explore it for a moment.

I come to my senses two hours later in a cushioned porch chair, sunburned and blinking. Somehow, I’m holding North! or Be Eaten.

Ten of My Favorite Adventure Stories | Little Book, Big Story

Today, I have the privilege of introducing you (perhaps you’ve met?) to Mother Daughter Book Reviews, a site that abounds with reviews of children’s literature. I’m serving as a guest poster today and my subject is perfectly summer worthy:

Ten of My Favorite Adventure Stories | Little Book, Big Story

Some of these adventure stories are classic; some are recent releases. Many will (hopefully) be new to you! May you spend your summer investigating wardrobes, cupboards, and tollbooths. May you pick up a magic coin, a bandolier of bells, a bow, or a ring linked to enchanted thread. May you steer clear of Voldemort and the toothy cows of Skree.

You can read the full post here.


Top Ten Adventure Stories
Théa Rosenburg, Guest Post for Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Featured Author: CS Lewis

When I choose books to review on this blog, I find that there are some authors who have won my heart so thoroughly that I can’t decide which of their books to review first. These are the authors that I love for themselves, not for any single book, and whose name on the spine of an otherwise unknown volume is enough insurance for me to buy a copy without even peeking at the blurb on the back of the book. Introducing you to them is my way of saying, “Yes, we’ll get to the specific titles. But for now, just skip to the part where you read any book they have ever written.”

Today’s featured author is one who looms large in the recent history of Christian thought. He is one that you’ve doubtless encountered and may already love, but the thought that you may not have gone further into his work than The Chronicles of Narnia finally motivated me to put pen to paper and draft this post. Perhaps I’m reminding you of an old friend. Perhaps. But I hope that, for some of you, this post serves as a welcome introduction to a new author, one whose work will earn a well-dogeared place in your own library: CS Lewis.


To be perfectly honest, I labored through the first chapters of Mere Christianity when I first encountered it at 19. I made a few false starts before I pushed on through those introductory chapters and into the heart of the book, but once there I realized that I was in the hands of an author adept at explaining complex concepts, and I began to see that the very questions I wrestled with as a new Christian could not only be answered, but could be answered in a logical way. (I have read the whole book many times since.)

C.S. Lewis fought in one world war but lived through them both, and he was a writer that spoke specifically to his time. But his voice carries, and his answers to the big questions about God and Christianity still satisfy readers today, when we, like the British soldiers and civilians of his original audience, struggle to understand why we should bother with Christianity–or any religion–at all.

Yet while he reasoned clearly on complex issues, he was not above telling stories that still appeal to children as well as adults, Christians as well as non-Christians, bookworms and those who are only caught by a good, old-fashioned adventure. His works span every genre and range in level of difficulty from those written for children (The Chronicles of Narniato works for adults; they cover everything from the afterlife (The Great Divorce) to prayer (Letters to Malcolm) to the question of pain and suffering (The Problem of Pain), all from a layman’s perspective, but with a scholar’s depth and a pitch-perfect ear for language (and humor).

Mere Christianity | Little Book, Big Story

C.S. Lewis seemed always to have the perfect metaphor for the most abstract ideas, and that is, I suppose, why his illustrations turn up in sermon after sermon: if C.S. Lewis has written about the issue in question, then I doubt if anyone else has written about it better.

” . . . it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy has been offered to us. We are far too easily pleased, like an ignorant child who goes on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea.” (The Weight of Glory)

Fiction for Children

– The Chronicles of Narniathese are the books that earned Lewis a place on this blog, after all.

Fiction for Adults

– The Space Trilogythese are all worth reading, but I bet you’ll be particularly taken with the second book, Perelandra.

The Science Fiction Trilogy | Little Book, Big Story

– The Screwtape Lettersletters from a senior devil to a junior devil, on how to tempt and enslave a man.

– The Great Divorcean exploration of the afterlife, in narrative form. Utterly unforgettable.

– Til We Have Facesa retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, told by Psyche’s older sister. Unique and absorbing.

Why Should You Read C.S. Lewis? | Little Book, Big Story

Nonfiction for Adults

– Mere Christianityan examination of what Christians believe and how they live in the light of those beliefs. A classic, and for good reason.

– The Weight of Glorya collection of talks and sermons given at various points in his career. One of my favorites, it contains a number of his best-known illustrations, and is a good introduction to his nonfiction.

– The Four LovesLewis writes about the four different types of love.

Why Should You Read C.S. Lewis? | Little Book, Big Story

– Surprised by JoyLewis’s “autobiography of faith,” in which he examines his own conversion from atheism to Christianity.

– Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayerone side of a correspondence about prayer.

– Reflections on the Psalmsa concise meditation on the psalms, from the perspective of Lewis as a layman. He answers some of the common issues in the Psalms (the vindictive violence, for example) in satisfying ways.

– Letters to Childrensweet and charming responses from Lewis to the children who wrote to him about his Narnia books. This book is lesser known, but it’s a treasure.

 

The Chronicles of Narnia | CS Lewis

I realize that, at first glance, this post may strike you as superfluous. We all know that The Chronicles of Narnia are awesome and most of us have hoped, since childhood, that some unassuming cupboard or closet would—just this once—take us there. These books have rightfully secured a shelf of honor in any children’s library, Christian or no, and are probably sitting on your shelves right now. So, why am I writing about them?

I’ll answer that question with a question: you’ve read them, of course, but have you read them all?

The Chronicles of Narnia | Little Book, Big Story

Perhaps, you had a well-meaning teacher who introduced you to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Maybe you read that book and loved it, and gave the next few books of the series a try before you got a new set of Legos and forgot all about everything after The Silver Chair. Perhaps, in this fictional scenario that is loosely based on my own life, you didn’t realize that things got much, much better after A Horse and His Boy and just, well, lost interest in Narnia for a time.

If that is your story or something like it, then I hope that your story ends like mine did: with a dazzling rediscovery of Narnia when you, as an adult, could see layer upon layer of truth and beauty embedded within the story, so potent that it made you weep at least once per book (or was that just me?). Without exaggeration, I can say that reading the entire series at nineteen shaped the way I view both this world and the world after, and I am forever indebted to C.S. Lewis for that.

So, I’m not writing about The Chronicles of Narnia in the hope of introducing you to something new, but to gently remind you that the series is meant to be taken as a whole. To read two or three books but not the rest is to sample ingredients without trying the finished dish—you miss the richness and complexity (the beautiful complexity!) of a masterfully woven tale as it arcs from book to book.

A few notes, now, on reading these books with your child. I began The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with my daughter when she was four. I was a little apprehensive because we had just left the Little House books, so she had plenty of experience with cozy family scenes but none at all with battles and evil witches. I wasn’t entirely sure she was ready for that but my theory when choosing books to read is, “Round up,” as in, always read just a little above what I think she’s ready for. So I took a deep breath, cracked open the book and hoped that the beauty of the story would outweigh everything else.

I’ll be honest: Lydia wasn’t immediately sold, not until the kids reached the Beavers’ house and then she announced, “I liked that chapter,” with a  happy sigh. After that came wolves and betrayal and more of the White Witch, but with all of that came Aslan! We took the two crucial chapters in one sitting, and when I stopped sobbing long enough to sniffle out Aslan’s emphatic “Yes!” (you know which part I’m talking about), the game had forever changed. Lydia has answered to Susan ever since, and we’re deep into A Horse and His Boy with two more books to go.

So, you may not think your child is ready for them, but you might be pleasantly surprised. Once you get going, though, keep going! Even if it gets slow and your child seems to lose interest in spots, keep going! The story always picks up again. And if the language feels dated and you’re not sure if your child is following it, just know that you’ll be rewarded one day by hearing them exclaim, “Oh, bother!” when they drop their sliced apple. The gifts of Narnia are many and varied.

The Chronicles of Narnia | Little Book, Big Story

One last note

We purchased the set linked below, with full color illustrations by Pauline Baynes. There are more pictures and they’re beautiful, and I really think that helped Lydia get into the story. They are definitely a step up from the old black and white editions (ours were actually disintegrating in my hands as we read), and they’re worth every penny.


The Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes (1950-1956)