When I began this blog, one of the things that mattered most to me was consistency: I committed (seven years ago! Goodness gracious) to writing weekly posts, because the blogs I liked best were consistent, reliable. I knew I could check every Tuesday for a new post, and, by gum, every Tuesday there’d be a new post to read. I looked forward to those posts. I have occasionally varied my schedule here to account for new babies or homeschool schedules, but for the most part I’ve kept my Weekly Post Commitment.
But every now and then a writing deadline or family illness comes along and sinks my well-intentioned ship. So, to that handful of you that might look forward to my Friday morning posts the way I look forward to my favorite blogs’ updates and who noticed my absence over the past two weeks: my apologies! I hope to compensate you for the missed posts by talking about C. S. Lewis. I find that C. S. Lewis typically makes everything better.
Caroline McAlister (author of John Ronald’s Dragons) has written a lovely picture book biography of C. S. Lewis—but! Her book is not only about C. S. Lewis. Finding Narnia is the story of Lewis and his brother, Warnie, and the way that they, together, brought the books into being.
From the brothers’ childhood games and stories, to the years when they were apart, to the moment when Lewis found himself thinking again, “What if . . . ?”, McAlister shows the way the seed of Narnia was planted, took root, and eventually flowered. She shows the work behind it, the patience, the love. When I was a kid, books seemed like mystical things to me—I thought ideas were something you waited for, not something you tended. So I love the way that Finding Narnia refutes that and shows readers another, far more common, way of writing a story.
And then, of course, there are the illustrations. Jessica Lanan’s watercolors are striking—so much so that three of my daughters commented on how pretty they are. She shows the imagined worlds of the brothers alongside their physical world in a way that feels organic and just right. That is as it should be, for this is not a story of how Narnia, in a bolt of inspiration, found Jack and Warnie, but how they, as children and then as grown men, found Narnia.
Finding Narnia: The Story of C. S. Lewis and His Brother
Caroline McAlister; Jessica Lanan (2019)