Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Title:  Prince Caspian
Author:  C. S. Lewis
Series: The Chronicles of Narnia
Approximate reading level:  8th grade

Summary:  Caspian is the next in line to become king of Narnia--that is, until his uncle Miraz takes over.  So, when Miraz has a son, Caspian's life is in danger.  He flees, and eventually calls the High King Peter, and his brother and sisters King Edmund and Queens Susan and Lucy by magic back to help him regain his rightful place and to bring Narnia back to its former glory with talking beasts and living trees.  Although ages have passed in Narnia since they were last here, it's been only one year for the children in England.  But magic is magic, after all, and it doesn't take long for them to regain their royal abilities they learned earlier in Narnia. 

Review:  Some children may be disturbed or frightened by the account of Caspian's life being in danger at the hand of his own family.  As in other Narnian stories, there are battle scenes--however, they are not described in gruesome detail, again, like in the other books.  The book can be appropriate for older children to read on their own, or to be read to younger children. 
**** Four stars

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy

Title:  The Horse and His Boy
Series:  The Chronicles of Narnia
Author:  C. S. Lewis
Approximate reading level:  8th grade

Summary:  Shasta overhears a conversation when he learns that the man he lives with is not his father and is willing to sell him to another man.  While wondering out loud what kind of man his new owner is, he finds a talking Narnian horse named Bree.  They decide to help each other escape a cruel master and begin a series of adventures that crosses multiple countries and the desert and brings them to meet many people, from royalty to a hermit.  Come along with Shasta and Bree and save a country, learn from Aslan, and find out Shasta's true identity.

Review:  More battle scenes may make this story intense for some children.  Also, although there are some important lessons learned--humility and concern for others among others--some are learned the hard way.  For example, Avaris (whom Shasta meets on his travels) suffers injuries equal to the ones she caused to be inflicted on a servant when she escaped.  Characters discuss the possibility of ghouls in the Tombs nearby one of the cities they must travel through, where they decide to meet if separated. 
I think the questionable elements are handled well and that this is another good book to read.  I think the Narnia series is also a great series to read to children younger than the approximate reading level--as long as the reader is sure the child(ren) can handle such items as the battle scenes and mention of ghouls.
**** four stars