Classic Series Starters: The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis recently came back into the spotlight after the release of the movies a few years ago. Many adults have grown up reading the series, and younger adults might have even grown up watching the movies, but this is the series that made me fall in love with reading when I was a kid. I don’t know how many times I’ve reread this series; the spines of my old boxed set of books are all cracked and some pages are dog-eared. The Chronicles of Narnia might not be the first books kids pull off the shelves (I feel so old), but the series is a classic that somehow manages to be relevant almost seventy years after they were first published.

I recommend reading in publication order rather than chronological order, so start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Even if you haven’t read the book, you most likely know the story anyway. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie are sent away to the country from London to live in safety during the Blitz and World War II. The children arrive at the Professor’s house and begin exploring the expansive grounds and rooms, filled with antiques and treasures. During one of these explorations, the youngest, Lucy Pevensie, finds a wardrobe. Instead of finding the back of the wardrobe, however, she stumbles into Narnia, a magical land filled with ice and snow, where the White Witch has ruled for a hundred years in cruelty. Now it’s up to Lucy to convince the rest of her siblings that Narnia is real and that they must save it.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was first published in 1950 but were not immediately popular due to the fact that other children’s novels were written in a way to be more realistic so as not to frighten children or give them a false sense of reality. However, it has been widely accepted that C.S. Lewis was one of the pioneers in the genre of fantasy. The series also has strong parallels with stories and images in Christianity.

The original reading order of the series is:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Silver Chair

The Horse and His Boy

The Magician’s Nephew

The Last Battle

The chronological order of the series is:

The Magician’s Nephew

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

When I was younger, I always read the series in chronological order because that’s how my boxed set came. I think that it would be interesting to reread the series how it was supposed to be read, which is the original publication order. The Aurora Public Library District has the series both available as physical copies or digital downloads (audio books or digital books) from the Indiana Digital Download Center. We also have copies of all three movies available for check out. Either way you read it, the series will take you right back to being a child again. I can’t wait to read it again!

Happy Reading!

Modern-Day Retellings of Classics

One popular writing trend that never seems to go out of style is the rehashing of familiar stories by making them relevant to today. It is always interesting to see how various authors interpret old classics, because each spin-off or retelling is different. Here is a short list of modern-day retellings of favorite stories that you can check out today:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Spring Sisters by Anna Todd

Dorothy Must Die series by Danielle Page

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Graham-Smith

Splintered series by A.G. Howard

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Wicked series by Gregory Maguire

Cinder series by Marissa Meyer

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

After Alice by Gregory Maguire

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Circe by Madeline Miller

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Beastly by Alex Finn

March by Geraldine Brooks

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

The Mists of Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Can you tell what each title is a retelling of? What’s your favorite modern-day retelling of an old classic? Mine would probably have to be Wicked by Gregory Maguire! Let us know in the comments!

Happy Reading!

Time Capsule Books

Most people shy away from “classic” books, thinking them to be outdated or written in a way that’s hard to read. While this is true of many classic novels, there are plenty of classics that stand the test of time. I like to call them “Time Capsule Books,” because you could lock the book away and dig it up again a hundred years later and it would still be relevant. Here are some Time Capsule Books you might enjoy:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Are you There, God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

A Time to Kill by John Grisham

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Number the Stars by Lewis Lowry

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

What books would you add to this list? Would you take any of them away?

 

Little Golden Books 75th Anniversary

Who didn’t grow up with the books The Poky Little Puppy, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, and Four Little Kittens from Little Golden Books? This year, Little Golden Books will celebrate its 75th anniversary. Little Golden Books launched in 1942 and sold for $.25 each. At the time, children’s books typically sold for $2-$3 apiece and were considered a luxury for many families. Little Golden Books wanted to make books affordable for families with young children and promote reading.

Little Golden Books published twelve original titles in October 1942, and in only five months, the twelve books were in their third printing at 1.5 million copies. Little Golden Books were introduced to supermarkets in 1947 for an average cost of $.25 until the 1960s, when the cost went up to a whopping $.29 apiece. Aside from the original twelve Little Golden Books titles, other titles included characters from popular children’s television shows and Westerns, like Howdy Doody, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, and Sesame Street, as well as characters from Walt Disney movies. Richard Scarry began writing and illustrating Little Golden Books titles in the 1970’s, and Sesame Street and Barbie characters began making appearances, as well.By its 40th anniversary in 1982, 800 million Little Golden Books have been sold worldwide. In 1986, The Poky Little Puppy became the one billionth title printed.

Artwork from Little Golden Books has been featured at the Smithsonian Institution, the New York Public Library, and the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, and the writing and artwork have won numerous awards. By January 2002, the Little Golden Books library boasted 1,200 titles. Today, the average cost of a Little Golden Book is $4.99, with several classics back in print to celebrate the 75th anniversary.

Now it’s time to introduce a new generation of readers to Little Golden Books; you can still purchase titles at several grocery stores, like Kroger. For more information, please visit the Little Golden Books website.

Happy Reading!