Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"Is Aslan Going To Be In This Story?"

We were traveling on November 29, so I missed my opportunity to post what's becoming my annual tribute to three writers who have been very important in my life's journey. November 29 marks the birthdays of C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, and Louisa May Alcott.

Madeleine would have turned 90 this year, and her daughter and granddaughter created a blog to post some special memories in her honor. They are beautiful and bring grateful tears to my eyes.

This Lewis-ian birthday happened to find us reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to our six year old while we traveled. On Sunday we were so thankful to find ourselves at a particularly riveting place in the story (Eustace's transformation from boy to dragon and back to boy) right as we got stuck in the worst of traffic near the entrance to the Pennsylvania turnpike on a cold, dark and rainy late afternoon.

It's been a few months since we read Prince Caspian, so I was wondering how well the sweet girl would remember Narnia. I should have known better. These stories have always captured her imagination, and she was eager to step back through the doors (okay, through a framed painting this time out) into Lewis' magical world again. And her sense of the story is so sound...right as we got to the part where Eustace turned into a dragon, she suddenly piped up from the back seat: "Is Aslan going to be in this story?" I almost laughed for joy, both at her ability to recognize that if there was ever a time for him to show up, it was now! and for the fact that he was indeed just about to arrive and provide the needful transformation that Eustace simply could not provide for himself.

Oh yes, sweetie, Aslan is going to be in this story. In fact, he's been here all along, quiet, beautiful, incognito, just waiting to be recognized as always.

Lord, give us eyes to see.


Edna said...

I think you've just inspired me to read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to my first graders. We are reading "Stuart Little" right now, and I'm not really too excited by it. I've been trying to challenge them with some harder read-alouds, and Narnia would be great, especially b/c of the message underlying it all.

Beth said...

Oh, Edna, let me know if you decide to do it -- I would love to hear how it goes! I think the age of 5 or 6 is really perfect for a first read of LWW. We read it to our daughter during kindergarten, and I held off for a while moving on with the rest of the series (primarily because I wasn't sure if she'd be ready for Dawn Treader or Silver Chair this year). But she loves the books and keeps responding to them so incredibly well. We're going to continue to take them slowly with breaks in between for lots of other things.

I'm fond of "Stuart Little" for nostalgic reasons, but I re-read it a couple of years ago and wasn't as impressed as an adult as I remembered being as a child. :-) It's sweet and funny and filled with White's excellent prose, but it doesn't seem to have the deeper levels of "Charlotte's Web."

I'd love to hear what other read-alouds you've done or are considering.

Edna said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I do varying read-alouds. I do a lot of picture books because there are so many good ones. We do Junie B. Jones b/c they are really funny, especially the first ones, and the kids love them. I do an occasional Magic Tree House, but I don't really like that series a lot (the topics are interesting, but the writing isn't very good IMO). Last year we did "Wizard of Oz" b/c we saw the play, and in the middle I realized that some of it is very violent, but the kids loved that, too.

I just try to give them a mix of things. I took a class last year that encouraged us to challenge the kids more, which is why I did Wizard of Oz, and I do think it's good for them.

Oh, my class LOVES the Mo Willems Pigeon books, too--and so I do I. The pictures are too funny.

Thanks for asking! I've gotten some good ideas from your blog :-).

I, of course, could read to them all day, but we do have other things like curriculum and math to do :-).

Beth said...

Oh yes, math. We do our share of that around here too. :-) Although we always know that read-aloud is coming, and it's almost always the best part of the day! ;-)

Erin said...

I'm finally catching up on your blog, and reading this makes me want to go back and read Dawn Treader again. Glad that the three of you had such a wonderful book to capture your hearts and minds during your travels! I also read the blog posts about Madeleine, and they were wonderful. This, incidentally, is definitely a dark and stormy day...

Beth said...

Weren't the Madeleine posts amazing?! I thought her daughter Josephine's story about the dark and stormy night was just wonderful, and oh so very Madeleine!

I'm still feeling in awe over the Dawn Treader. I just love that book, and have for such a long time. I need to review it for eps (I'm trying to review all the Chronicles as we re-read them with S.) but realized I'm already behind as I never reviewed Prince Caspian (the real one...the book, not the movie, which I did review!). I may go on and do Dawn Treader while it's fresh in my mind and then wait to post it until I can manage the PC review!

Beth said...

P.S. Speaking of catching up, Erin :-) I'm way behind posting a lot of things I keep meaning to post here, including a poem I said I'd post weeks ago! Soon, soon...this has just been a crazy-busy month (she says as she heads off to the kitchen to roll and cut yet more Christmas cookies...)