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Adapting Narnia for Young Children

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Glenwit
(@glenwit)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @the-mad-poet

 

 Better to have them wait a few years than ruin the story for them with a neutered butchery of the original.

This.

I mean, I'm sure we've all read abridged versions of stories when we were younger, and then we found out that the actual story was more intense in places than we originally thought....but ultimately deeper, more meaningful + paints a better picture of the themes beneath the surface that we didn't know were there (for me that was Oliver Twist). 

Nothing wrong with it, per se - but it definitely should NOT be considered a replacement for the original, in my opinion.

This is the journey
This is the trial
For the hero inside us all
I can hear adventure call
Here We Go

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Posted : February 4, 2021 9:25 am
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

I have a question for anyone who's read it (@reepicheep775, @gp, etc)... does this book say how very silly it is to shut oneself up in a wardrobe? That sounds like a joke, but I've always felt that Lewis was really deliberate about that because he didn't want any adventurous children getting stuck somewhere, and obviously it's especially important with really small children.

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : February 4, 2021 11:14 am
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Reepicheep775
(@reepicheep775)
NarniaWeb Junkie

In a weird way this book has made me more excited about Narnia than I've been in a while. It makes me sad to say this, but lately my Narnia fandom has slept. I will always love Narnia, but for the past few years, I've found myself not thinking about it much or getting as excited about it as I used to. I think it's because there hasn't been anything new for so long. And not just new movies - concept art, set reports trailers, posters etc. As wonderful as the books are, they're still only seven 200 page books. On top of that, there are a few adaptations. Compare that to something like Star Wars or Star Trek or even Lord of the Rings... there's a lot more material there for fans to consume and discuss.

My over-analysis of this board book is probably unwarranted due to its intended audience, but having a new adaptation has reminded me how much fun this fandom is. It's been too long. Thank you, little board book. ? 

Posted by: @rose

I have a question for anyone who's read it (@reepicheep775, @gp, etc)... does this book say how very silly it is to shut oneself up in a wardrobe? That sounds like a joke, but I've always felt that Lewis was really deliberate about that because he didn't want any adventurous children getting stuck somewhere, and obviously it's especially important with really small children.

No, it doesn't.

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Topic starter Posted : February 4, 2021 3:04 pm
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator
Posted by: @reepicheep775

I will always love Narnia, but for the past few years, I've found myself not thinking about it much or getting as excited about it as I used to. I think it's because there hasn't been anything new for so long. And not just new movies - concept art, set reports trailers, posters etc. As wonderful as the books are, they're still only seven 200 page books.

One of the ways I deal with this is by reading a lot of books and myths and legends from Lewis's own bookshelves... those often take me to Narnia in unexpected ways because Lewis drew inspiration from so many diverse areas, and my understanding of those relatively short Chronicles just grows richer and richer along with my own wider experience of literature. (I kind of wish the Lewis Estate would publish a collection of some of the stories that influenced Narnia... I know Lewis would approve.)

That said, I trawl Google for news about Narnia on Netflix all the time, not just because I'm a news poster, but because I really want something new to talk and think about with Narnia that's actually concrete and not just a random obscure theory about something. Giggle The board book has its flaws, but it's definitely nice to have something new and shiny and official to talk about for the first time in ages.

Posted by: @reepicheep775

No, it doesn't.

Hmmm. Perhaps they need warning stickers. Tongue

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : February 4, 2021 3:57 pm
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Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer
Posted by: @the-mad-poet

 Better to have them wait a few years than ruin the story for them with a neutered butchery of the original. 

I had the same feeling initially, but notsomuch after reading it.  First off, we're talking about 0-4 year olds here. Ultimately, they won't remember much anyway. And second, the story in the board book is so quick and vague anyway.

When I first read LWW at age 12, I was already familiar with a lot of the iconic imagery and one or two story beats (I think most people are). That didn't stop it from becoming one of my favorite books. If anything, it probably made it more intriguing, finally getting context for images I'd had in my head for a while.

So, as a Narnia nerd, I think my review of this board book is - to borrow a quote from Douglas Adams - "mostly harmless." Totally understandable if someone would rather wait for the real thing, but there's no need to get out the torch and pitchfork and protest. 🙂

This post was modified 8 months ago 4 times by Glumpuddle


YouTube.com/gpuddle | Twitter.com/glumpuddle

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Posted : February 5, 2021 8:01 am
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator
Posted by: @gp

First off, we're talking about 0-4 year olds here. Ultimately, they won't remember much anyway.

Does that undercut all of our torches and pitchforks about chronological order, though? I doubt there would be much harm in reading the board book to a two year old, but I feel like a four year old or even a three year old might remember that there's a country in the wardrobe, or at least the concept will seem familiar in some sense. I say this as someone permanently traumatized by reading MN first. Wink Giggle

Posted by: @gp

When I first read LWW at age 12, I was already familiar with a lot of the iconic imagery and one or two story beats

So did you already know about going through the wardrobe, or was that still a surprise?

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : February 5, 2021 10:49 am
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Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer

So did you already know about going through the wardrobe, or was that still a surprise?

Yeah, I knew. I think that's a part of pop culture that many people are familiar with even if they haven't read the book.

 

Does that undercut all of our torches and pitchforks about chronological order, though?

 

Interesting question.

I maintain that The Chronicles of Narnia are seven fantastic books whether read in publication or chronological order, but publication is definitely ideal. (I pull out the pitchforks mainly because I think it amounts to revising an author's work years after his death)

Likewise, I think most kids will ultimately enjoy LWW even if they read this board book when they're 4. Less than ideal? Probably. A reason to panic and fear the story has been ruined for your child forever? I doubt it.

 

This post was modified 8 months ago 8 times by Glumpuddle


YouTube.com/gpuddle | Twitter.com/glumpuddle

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Posted : February 5, 2021 11:59 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb
Posted by: @gp

First off, we're talking about 0-4 year olds here. Ultimately, they won't remember much anyway.

Posted by: @rose

Does that undercut all of our torches and pitchforks about chronological order, though? I doubt there would be much harm in reading the board book to a two year old, but I feel like a four year old or even a three year old might remember that there's a country in the wardrobe, or at least the concept will seem familiar in some sense. I say this as someone permanently traumatized by reading MN first. Wink Giggle

Must say I'm with you here, @rose — I have very clear memories of a lot of books my parents read to me (and that I was starting to read for myself too) from when I was about 3 years old onwards. As I've already said, LWW came when I was about 4 1/2 (I'm basing that on where we were living at the time, as we moved house a few months before I turned 5 and it was definitely before then), and so many things in that book stayed in my memory very vividly at the time, even though I didn't re-read it for myself until probably a few years later.

Of course children under 2 probably won't retain much of the board book other than the cute colourful pictures (I quite like the artwork, although Aslan doesn't look nearly as "golden" as he's described in the text), but in that case, is there much point in reading them a story that's possibly too complicated for them to grasp properly at that age anyway? It all reminds me a bit of board book versions of Jane Austen for little kiddies — yes, seriously, I've seen them. Not with anything like the actual stories of JA's novels in them, but using her characters and scenes to illustrate numbers, opposites and so on. That leaves me wondering if board books like this are published more as an indulgence for the grown-ups — ooh, let's introduce my little darling to MY favourite books and authors as early as possible — without much regard for whether or not the kids themselves are at the right age to appreciate them.

But that's just my view and I'd be very interested to hear, from Glumpuddle and any others here who have young children and are planning to read the board book to them, what the kids themselves think of it and how much it does to encourage a whole new generation of Narnia fans! Wink  

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : February 5, 2021 12:29 pm
Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer
Posted by: @courtenay

That leaves me wondering if board books like this are published more as an indulgence for the grown-ups

Definitely - that's mostly what this is. 🙂 Parents wanting to bond with their kids by sharing their favorite things with them. (I have that Pride & Prejudice counting book by the way haha. It's one of my son's favorites oddly enough)

I think The Chronicles of Narnia are strong enough to withstand the memory of little 32-page board book. 🙂 I fell in love with them even though I was familiar with the basics. And even today, I re-read them and get sucked in. That's due in large part to the atmosphere Lewis created. It's not about plot suspense. It's about wanting to be in that world.

I'm not saying this board book is the ideal way to introduce Narnia to a child. Only saying it's very unlikely to ruin the real book for them. The board book is too vague, and the real book is too good. 🙂

This post was modified 8 months ago 5 times by Glumpuddle


YouTube.com/gpuddle | Twitter.com/glumpuddle

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Posted : February 5, 2021 1:40 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb
Posted by: @gp

(I have that Pride & Prejudice counting book by the way haha. It's one of my son's favorites oddly enough)

The kid's got taste Grin  

Posted by: @gp

That's due in large part to the atmosphere Lewis created. It's not about plot suspense. It's about wanting to be in that world.

Well, it was about plot suspense for me the first time I read them, since I was fortunate enough to encounter them at a young age with virtually no plot spoilers! Wink (No movies back then, except for the animated version of LWW, which as I've said, I was aware of but didn't pay much attention to — and the BBC series came out just after I'd finished reading the seven books. We didn't have the internet back then either, of course.) But I totally agree, they bear re-reading again and again and again and it probably doesn't matter too much how someone first encountered them.

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : February 5, 2021 2:27 pm
Col Klink
(@col-klink)
NarniaWeb Nut

I've been following this discussion with interest and I'm wondering if maybe a mistake this board book made was to try to be a retelling of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It sounds like the story is an irrelevance at best and a problem at worst. A better Narnia board book, for parents clamoring for such a thing, might have been just a collection of images from LWW or maybe the whole series if the creators wanted to be ambitious (and less marketable) with a little explanatory text. The first page could have an image of Lucy entering the wardrobe and words would be "one day a girl named Lucy stepped inside a wardrobe and found herself in a magical land called Narnia." Another page might have have an imaged of the Beavers' house with a flap that lifted to show the interior. The text might say "Mr. and Mrs. Beaver live in this little house." Another page could have a picture of the Witch's courtyard full of statues and the flap would lift to reveal them restored to life. (I know that would kind of spoil the end of LWW but the great thing about that part isn't so much the fact that Aslan breaks the spell as it is Lewis's great description of it.) 

As for the actual board book that was made...unlike Glumpuddle I feel that visuals for Narnia should be as photorealistic as possible. (This probably is because the aforementioned Deborah Maze illustrations were my introduction to it, but even if I'd seen the Pauline Baynes illustrations first like most people, I feel I'd still "see" Narnia that way.) So the stylized illustrations of this book don't cut it for me. But I appreciate that they're trying to be original and not just a duplication of either the original illustrations or the movie adaptations. (Well, an image of the White Witch I saw does kind of look like it was copied from the movie, but maybe that was coincidental.) And, like Reepicheep775 and Rose-Tree Dryad, I'm enjoying having a new piece of Narnia memorabilia about which to think. 🙂

EDIT: I really don't mean to sound like I'm criticizing either the original illustrations by Pauline Baynes or the visuals of the movie adaptations. They're both great. I just feel new Narnian illustrations shouldn't mindlessly copy what people already see in their minds as Narnia. Though as my comment also indicates, I'm probably going to prefer what people already see as Narnia to this. 😉 

This post was modified 8 months ago by Col Klink

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Posted : February 5, 2021 6:37 pm
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Carley
(@carley)
Member Knight of NarniaWeb

I hope it's okay if I jump in the conversation here.  Just had a few things to say.

I think it's interesting what they decided to remove to make the board book suitable for the age range.  I can understand some of the changes, but eventually I just have to wonder, why bother?  Different kids handle things differently.  What one kid finds really scary, may not bother another kid at all.  I was four when I was introduced to Narnia, through a LWW picture book with fairly realistic illustrations.  And the only think I was bothered by was Mr. Tumnus, because I had never seen a faun before. Giggle  The White Witch didn't scare me.  Actually, when I first saw a picture of the White Witch giving Edmund Turkish delight, I wanted to read that part because the Turkish delight looked so good.  You never know what a kid is going to be scared of, and I know it's impossible for them to make a book for this age range suitable for every kid.  This board book is cute, but it's not worth it if you have to remove the meaning and depth from the story.  Why not just wait a couple years and let them experience Narnia through the original books?

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Posted : February 5, 2021 8:26 pm
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator

I was just reading the new interview with Douglas Gresham about the board book, and thinking about what other Chronicles might work as board books, and it occurs to me that they would probably be better off adapting a single chapter or short collection of chapters. The creation of Narnia in MN, the Dufflepud adventure... the sixth chapter of Prince Caspian, where Caspian goes around and meets all of the Narnians, strikes me as especially perfect for a board book. Plus, adapting just a snippet from a book means that you can render that snippet in better detail, and at the very least you're not spoiling the whole book, either. Giggle

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : February 6, 2021 10:15 am
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Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer
Posted by: @rose

it occurs to me that they would probably be better off adapting a single chapter or short collection of chapters.  Giggle

There's an idea. They released a few PC movie tie-in books like that. Might be fun to see something like that with more care put into it.


YouTube.com/gpuddle | Twitter.com/glumpuddle

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Posted : February 6, 2021 1:24 pm
Reepicheep775
(@reepicheep775)
NarniaWeb Junkie
Posted by: @gp

I had the same feeling initially, but notsomuch after reading it.  First off, we're talking about 0-4 year olds here. Ultimately, they won't remember much anyway. And second, the story in the board book is so quick and vague anyway.

When I first read LWW at age 12, I was already familiar with a lot of the iconic imagery and one or two story beats (I think most people are). That didn't stop it from becoming one of my favorite books. If anything, it probably made it more intriguing, finally getting context for images I'd had in my head for a while.

So, as a Narnia nerd, I think my review of this board book is - to borrow a quote from Douglas Adams - "mostly harmless." Totally understandable if someone would rather wait for the real thing, but there's no need to get out the torch and pitchfork and protest. 🙂

I'm largely in agreement with this. It's fun to go back into Narnia adaptation analysis mode, but I don't think a board book represents the books in the same way a film does. For a lot of people, when they hear The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, they think of the Walden movie and that's why bad movie adaptations of books I love bother me. I can't see that happening here.

I also agree that vaguely knowing a story doesn't usually impact my enjoyment of books. I usually know at least some details, and often the ending, of a classic before I read it.

Posted by: @rose

I was just reading the new interview with Douglas Gresham about the board book, and thinking about what other Chronicles might work as board books, and it occurs to me that they would probably be better off adapting a single chapter or short collection of chapters. The creation of Narnia in MN, the Dufflepud adventure... the sixth chapter of Prince Caspian, where Caspian goes around and meets all of the Narnians, strikes me as especially perfect for a board book. Plus, adapting just a snippet from a book means that you can render that snippet in better detail, and at the very least you're not spoiling the whole book, either.  Giggle

 
I was thinking more about the idea of Narnia board books today and I was thinking it might be best to move away from the actual stories. I was thinking of a book of Narnian creatures (kind of like a bestiary for kids) or a book with Narnian characters or locations, without any sort of narrative. 
 
But I like the idea of focusing on individual chapters too. The island of the Dufflepuds could make for a good non-scary mini-story (obviously the Magician's House is scary in the books, but making that less scary would make me cringe less than describing Aslan as making you feel safe).
 
This post was modified 8 months ago 5 times by Reepicheep775

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Topic starter Posted : February 6, 2021 3:35 pm
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