Monday, September 24, 2012

Book Review of The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew, by C. S. Lewis

4 stars

The story of how Narnia began, and it's not like you think! Polly and Digory don't just discover Narnia... they are forced into it, or else. Through threats, mix-ups, and some real danger, follow them on their wild quest to restore things to order after - oops - they accidentally bring a wicked warrior queen home with them to London! The two witness the creation of the world of Narnia, and meet Aslan face to face... but already, evil has been introduced to the world. For Digory and Polly, it all comes down to the choice of self or sacrifice - a choice that will determine the young Narnia's future.

Concerns: Magic issues.
Summary: It's hard to narrow down which of the seven Narnia chronicles are favorites, but this one ranks near the top. The tantalizing description of the world between the worlds - you can't help but wonder, what if they jumped in another pool? On an entirely whimsical side note, I have to say that despite the dogs, and the planting of Uncle Andrew, my personal favorite is the guinea pig, who's happily content to be stranded forever in sleepy, grassy paradise! As a whole, it's a fun book - not just a journey, but an adventure.

*Note: Book is first in a series. Other books are:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Review of The Exiles at Home

The Exiles at Home, by Hilary McKay

4 1/2 stars

If you thought this foursome spelled trouble before, consider the situation when the four Conroy girls suddenly find themselves in dire need of ten pounds a month for a good (but somewhat devious) cause. It's as crazy a story as you'll ever run across; robbing post offices, selling sandwiches made in a dog kennel, searching for buried treasure... oh, and yes, it's a secret. Meaning that throughout the riotous year that this book recounts, Ruth, Naomi, Rachel, and Pheobe dare not explain just exactly why they took such drastic measures to come up with this all-important money.

Concerns: Well, as with the first book, the whole plot is to follow the escapades and misadventures of a quartet of the most rascally little girls you'll ever come across. Think lots of naughtiness. No swearing, though; and if it's any consolation (eh), they at least have a good motive in this go-round.

Summary: Could I step in for a minute here, and say that this is funny? This is funny. McKay's trick of wording is exquisitely mischevious. It's so perfect. Personally, I love the sled. The horribleness of their Easter candy is enough to make me queasy myself. And Pheobe's tragic hopeful line, "Give me five pounds?" at the end of the book makes me laugh in spite of myself. A guilty pleasure!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Book Review of Owls in the Family

Owls in the Family, by Farley Mowat

4 1/2 stars

So. Supposing you lived in a town on the Canadian prairie. Then supposing you had a chance to take home a couple of orphaned great horned owls. Then, supposing said owls grew to full size, liked to nibble on people's ears, teased your dog, fought with skunks (yup! during dinner!), followed you to school, climbed trees... and couldn't fly. What a summer that would be! It's unpredictable. It's funny. And it's all true!

Concerns: None.

Summary: Maybe my personality has biased my outlook, but who wouldn't want pets like these? It's so much more interesting when the owl bites the mailman - or when it's an owl that follows you to school (and in the window!) - or when it's an owl that thinks he can walk on water! *Oh, and throw thirty-plus pet prairie dogs into the mix. I love it!* This is a fantastic true story of the life of a lucky kid and his everyday adventures after a couple of owls join his family.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Book Review of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

5 stars!

Narnia, the awe-inspiring land of deep forests, talking animals, mythical creatures and talking trees, is ruled by the grim White Witch and her wolf-band of secret police. When four children from war-weary England stumble across the doorway to Narnia, an adventure unfolds... because the queen will suffer no human to enter her country. So begins the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies through treachery, courage, despair, and sacrifice, in a battle to overthrow the queen's evil reign.

Concerns: It bothers me that they refer to Aslan's power as magic, though he nether chants spells nor puts together crazy concoctions. He just is. The Witch, on the other hand, is clearly an argument against spells and the like, so my rationale is Lewis -- regrettably -- called it magic for lack of a better term.

Summary: This is still the fantasy book for kids. The Chronicles, together with Tolkein's trilogy, were the modern springboard for fantasy tales, and still is the standard today. Even the worst of fantasy books has a devoted following (say, the author, his mother, and little brother), but in over 50 years of readers devouring Narnia, it's safe to assume that the promise of a fascinating new world is fulfilled. So enter into a tale of wonder and high adventure!