Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – THE SILVER CHAIR by C. S. Lewis

For this week’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday the obvious choice is C. S. Lewis’s Narnia Series. Of the series, the “first” book THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is the one that first comes to mind to focus on as a standalone, and it IS a great book. But my favorite of the series is THE SILVER CHAIR. Here’s a brief summary:

Eustace Scrubb and Jill—a girl whom he recently befriended—walk through a door and find themselves in Aslan’s country at the very edge of the world. Eustace returns to Narnia to find his friend, King Caspian X, as an old man haunted by the kidnapping of his only son and heir, Prince Rilian. He and Jill—along with the ever melancholic Puddleglum—are soon sent on a quest to find the stolen prince by following four simple Signs…

As an adult reader, I have some major problems with the Narnia series, not the least of which is the whole Christian thing. Some of the books in the series have a stronger sense than others of the Christian themes that Lewis intended. The end of DAWN TREADER is pretty overt, and there are parts of LION, WITCH too that I find a little strong. The final book, THE LAST BATTLE is all a bit much for me, especially the ending. I also find some of the books a bit muddled – there are too many people driving too many stories.

I never was a fan of THE HORSE AND HIS BOY and while I like THE MAGICIAN”S NEPHEW, it kind of seems like it’s from another series. PRINCE CASPIAN is just a weak book.

Ah, but THE SILVER CHAIR…sigh. My feeling is that this one is the most cleverly plotted and contained. It has the strongest protagonists, in the reformed Eustace and his classmate Jill, and it is the only one that has a very clear and strong “quest” as a premise. I love the signs that Aslan sets out for them, and the denouement is fantastic, as are Eustace’s and Jill’s personal journeys. It also has what I consider to be Lewis’s best suporting character (maybe in a close tie with Reepicheep), Puddleglum, the Marsh Wiggle.

I hope the movie franchise makes this one soon. It feels very cinematic and I think would adapt well to the screen. This book can also be read on its own, without much knowledge of the rest of the series.

It’s a shortish book, at 52436 words, and has a reading level of about grade five or six.

For this week I can’t wait to read I’m going to go with OLIVER TWISTED by J.D. Sharpe and Charles Dickens. This is another one awaiting a US release, and I’m not even sure if it would be considered suitable for middle grade readers. I’m not a huge fan of the recent fashion for classic mash-ups, but this one seems like “why didn’t I think of that” fun.

For other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts check out these blogs:

9 thoughts on “Marvelous Middle Grade Monday – THE SILVER CHAIR by C. S. Lewis

  1. I have yet to read any of the Narnia books. *hangs head in shame* I hope to do it eventually.
    And for Oliver Twisted this is a must read. I’m curious how my favorite Oliver Twist became “twisted” here. I’m very very curious.

  2. I did a re-read of the Narnia books last year, and I was disappointed by the Silver Chair, which used to be one of my favourites! I think I still enjoy the Magician’s Nephew and Voyage of the Dawn Treader the most–many of the others get me too offside with their awful depictions of race and gender (and the hard-hitting religious themes, which personally aren’t my cup of tea).

  3. If it makes you feel any better, students rarely pick up on the Christian agenda. I know I didn’t when I first read them, other than an inkling about The Last Battle. It’s so clear as an adult, and the students just take it as part of the story. Sort of like how they don’t necessarily pick up on Pullman’s agenda unless their parents have said they CAN’T read him.

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