Sunday, March 22, 2015

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

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is a fantasy novel about the four Pevensie children:  Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.  The children are sent to live in the countryside to escape the aerial bombings of London during World War II, and they end up staying at a professor’s huge, mysterious home.  During a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy runs away to a beautiful old wooden wardrobe…which just happens to contain a secret entrance to a magical world called Narnia!  The other children soon come with her, and they discover that the evil White Witch has cast a spell which made it winter in Narnia forever.

The Pevensie children are befriended by a series of talking animals, and they quickly begin plotting to overthrow the White Witch and her army of monsters!  With the help of a lion named Aslan, the children put their bravery to the test in a struggle to save the world of Narnia.  Let me warn you now, though, if you start in on this book then I guarantee you’ll end up reading all six of the other books in the Narnia series.  The books are all interconnected, and I love the way that all of them follow the Pevensie children as they grow up in both the world of Narnia and back home in England. 

I’ve read this book several times throughout my life, and as I got older I learned that C.S. Lewis was actually using these stories to pass along different ideas from his Christian faith.  How cool is that, having a hidden message within the books!  Also, I heard that Mr. Lewis was inspired to write about the winter forest setting when he was a professor at Magdalen College.  He would spend his afternoons staring out the window of his office and watching the snow collect around a solitary lamppost, which he later used as the first major landmark the children see upon entering the world of Narnia! 

Take a moment to look around your own neighborhood.  Are there any particular objects near your home or school that you’re particularly attached to?  Do you think it’d be possible to build a story, or maybe even an entire world, around them?  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Then Again, Maybe I Won't, by Judy Blume

Tony Miglione lives in Newark City, New Jersey, where he has a happy home life and a group of good friends.  Everything is about to change for him, though, when one of his father’s inventions becomes wildly successful.  The family becomes rich overnight, and suddenly moves to upper-class Rosemont, New York!  Tony is forced to adjust to a new school, new friends, and a new life, and he ends up suffering from massive stomach cramps as a result of the stress. 

One thing you should know about this book is that it deals with quite a few mature topics such as puberty, mental illness, and alcohol abuse.  This book would be classified as “young adult” today, and aimed mainly towards teenage readers.  Judy Blume is well-known for her straightforward writing on tough subjects, so prepare yourself in advance.  If you don’t feel like you’d be comfortable reading about these topics just yet, it’s perfectly okay to choose another book.  A classic like “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t” isn’t going anywhere, and it’ll still be around for you to enjoy a couple of years from now.

The book seems to be all about change, whether it’s with Tony’s body, his friends, or his family.  The stress that comes with becoming an uncle, for example, or moving to a new town, causes Tony to physically suffer until he learns how to express his feelings and ask for help.  The story carries an important lesson with it since our lives, like Tony’s, will be constantly changing.  Much of what goes on might be out of our control, but what we can control is how we choose to cope with these changes.  “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t” is a must read for all young men….when you’re ready for it!