Sunday, February 15, 2009

A dilemma

Bedtime storytime is one of those lovely things I share with the boys where I get to make a myriad of goofy voices and also get to reread lots of my childhood favourites and dust off my old books. The boys get a real buzz when I tell them these were the very books I was reading at their age. My inability to cull my personal library has proven once again to be indispensable.

We have finished Joy Cowley's The Silent One, the story of twelve year-old Jonasi, an outcast boy, when he finds a magical white turtle. It tells of superstition, and ghosts and spirits and how fear will drive people to do stupid things. The boys loved it.

Choosing the next book has been a little more problematic. We have read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S.Lewis, and the boys want to read the next in the series, and there in lies the dilemma, as the Chronicles of Narnia have an order of publication, but there is also a reading order.

The order of publication is:

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

The reading order is:

The Magicians Nephew.
The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.
The Horse and his Boy.
Prince Caspian.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The Silver Chair.
The Last Battle.

It is interesting to note the reading order was decided by Harper Collins when they took over publication on the advice of Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham. It follows the chronological series of events in Narnia.

My childhood books have half of them with the reading order numbers printed on them (Fontana Lions), and the rest without (Puffin)

We were already wrongfooted on the reading order as we read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first. Anyway, I always like to read a series in order of publication, and Hollywood has chosen the publication order. (We got a buzz out of watching TLTWATW on DVD, as part of it was filmed at Elephant rocks, one of our favourite haunts out the back of Duntroon)

So the decision is finally made, and we will go with the order of publication; bring on Prince Caspian.


Erin said...

Such serious delimas in your household. What series books do you think we should start with?

The Paradoxical Cat said...

I applaud your decision to follow the order of publication - that's the order, presumably, in which they were written, and imagined by the author, so there will be an authenticity to the style and a logical order to the way the nature of the relative universe is revealed.

Your excellent young chaps will be able to handle the prequels and sequels!

I remember having this problem when during one season I re-read all of the Isaac Asimov Robots and Foundation series. I didn't read them in order but just as they became available at my public library. I even read the large print editions if they were the only ones available! I don't think it spoiled my appreciation to have to jump around in time.

Mary McCallum said...

The Magician's Nephew is boring anyway. We couldn't get through it.

Bookman Beattie said...

Good on you for sharing your childhood favourites with your boys. And when they grow and leave home, sob sob,and perhaps one day marry then you can pass all these books on to them and the cycle can continue.
Be sure to read them Tom's Midnight Garden.Also Falter Tom & the Water Boy.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know at what point Mary's family tried reading The Magician's Nephew - at the beginning of the series (as with the specified 'reading order') or in the middle of the sequence in which they were published.

As a child I read them in publication order and it worked for me. It meant I had insights into the 'Magician's Nephew' characters that I wouldn't have had if I'd read that book first, and I'm sure that book seemed more interesting as a result.

I also think that with a series about a world that has a different rate of time from that of our own, it's entirely appropriate that we should read about events in other than chronological order.

What interests me most is whether today's children can identify with the Narnia stories as written (ie without the movies), or whether they find them hopelessly outdated and faintly silly.

I'm still too bound up in my childhood reading of them (more than 30 years ago) to be able to look at them from a modern perspective when I reread them ... and of course I'm a grown-up, so how would I know anyway.


Vanda Symon said...

Thanks for your feedback everyone. It's good to see Narnia is still dear to everyone's hearts. My boys love it, and they don't even notice the old fashioned language as they are carried along by the story.

Erin, the first chapter book we started with was Charlotte's Web, which went down a treat. I'm all for the old fashioned stories.

The Scholastic My Story series of books are great for bedtime reading as they are in diary format with shortish entries, so if the natives are getting restless, it's easy to stop!

And they're never too young for Narnia!

Catherine said...

I read them in order of publication, because I was the right age to read them when they were being published.
The Magicians Nephew is a sort of prequel and it's fine to leave it till later. The Last Battle is rather preachy. By the time it came out I had outgrown the series, and didn't get to it till much later when my own children were reading the Narnia books. I think I would regard it as pretty optional. I found I still loved the Narnia books as an adult, but not that one.
I disagree with the commenter who thought the Magicians Nephew was boring. I loved it.
when you have got through Narnia you could try Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, or anything by Diana Wynne Jones, who writes for a number of different ages and is , in the opinion of myself and my very discerning now grown children, far superior to Harry Potter