The Chronicles of Narnia

I can’t count the number of times I’ve read the first several Narnia books.  In fact, I’m quite certain that I’ve read all of them except The Last Battle more times than fingers.  I’m quite certain that I have only read The Last Battle three times.

When I was a kid I of course didn’t see the Christian allegory in these books.  Why would I have?  And really, it’s most present in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle.  Then I read them during college and felt like I’d been slapped in the face with it.

Now, having once again read the whole series front to back, I don’t feel slapped in the face with it.  It’s there, but it’s integrated so well into the fantasy of Narnia in general that… well, I can overlook it.  I still love the fantasy of it; The Horse and His Boy is still my favorite of the books.  And I can’t wait until the kid is old enough to appreciate them so we can read them together.

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The Little House Books

When we were in OK over Thanksgiving, one of my tasks was to clean out the various boxes in my childhood room, as my parents are getting ready for retirement and that includes selling the house and moving to a different state.

I knew there were lots of children’s books in those boxes.  This included my box set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, which I distinctly remember saving my allowance for for a LONG TIME so that I could buy it at the school book fair.  I think it cost me $24.  And so I set about re-reading all of them, which took me a grand total of about 10 days.

And they’re exactly as I remember them.  As an adult who loathes moving, I’m kind of in awe of Pa’s wanderlust, and of Ma’s tolerance of it.  There were a couple of things I picked up on that I would never have noticed as a kid – in Little House in the Big Woods, Pa sings a song about a “darky”.  On a similar note, I remember wondering as a kid why there was never any mention of the Civil War in any of the books.  Maybe it just didn’t enter the consciousness of folks living in the woods of Wisconsin?

I can’t wait to read these with my own daughter, and see what her very 21st-century mind makes of a world so very different from her own.

Keats’s Neighborhood

I usually write about the books I read, but sometimes you come across a kids’ book that you have to read yourself.  Keats’s Neighborhood really is more for the adults than the kids.  It contains ten of Ezra Jack Keats stories, beginning with The Snowy Day and progressing through most of the Peter/Archie/Louie stories (but not including one of my favorites – The Trip).  That’s all well and good, but we own most of those stories already.  The best part (and the reason it’s more for the adults than the kids) is the introduction and commentary, explaining how a Jewish kid came to be the man who was the first to write a kid’s book featuring a main character who was African American, and the backlash that followed.  It’s an amazing perspective on books that I have loved for as long as I can remember.

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