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Adapting Narnia for Young Children

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Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer
Douglas Gresham said:
"But introducing Aslan as 'big and bright like the sun and he makes you feel safe' will also prevent the little ones from having nightmares about a huge dangerous Lion (and of course Aslan is really exactly that, but also a great deal more as well)..."
 
Basically, I think he is saying that most little kids will automatically think of lions as dangerous, so, you kinda get the "not safe" part for free. That's the easy part. The hard part is conveying the "but good." So that's what the text of the board book chose to focus on since it only had one page to introduce Aslan.
 
The word "safe" in the board book only makes me because it reminds me of Mr. Beaver's famous line. If they had used a synonym for safe, I don't think I would have cringed. Maybe "protected."
 
Posted by: @reepicheep775

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.

Agreed. For one thing, the movie is a million times more developed and vivid than this little board book (which takes about 2 minutes to read). For another, the movie is intended for a much wider audience than 0-4 year olds. 

Again, I'm not saying the board book is wonderful and the ideal introduction to Narnia. I'm just saying it's pretty harmless. 🙂

This post was modified 8 months ago 2 times by Glumpuddle


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Posted : February 8, 2021 8:51 am
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator
Posted by: @gp

Basically, I think he is saying that most little kids will automatically think of lions as dangerous, so, you kinda get the "not safe" part for free. That's the easy part.

I'd have to survey some small kids, but I'm not sure that really little children automatically think of lions as scary... all I can go on is my own experience, but when I was a wee sprout, I watched a lot of animal shows for kids, which showed footage of real animals but presented them in a very "safe, fun" way, and the first movie I saw in theaters (about three years old?) was The Lion King. I don't think I experienced them as scary until I was probably older than ten and was watching "grown up" nature documentaries where you see them attacking zebras and such. (Ah yes, the end of my childhood. I didn't really enjoy nature shows after that. Sigh Eyebrow )

If I were to rewrite that line... maybe "And he can protect you from anything." That conveys that he cares about you, and makes you safe, while also honoring the fact that he himself is powerful and not safe.

I will say, though, I can understand why Douglas Gresham might think that small children would be automatically scared of lions because he had a run-in with a black bear when he was very young! It was when he was still living in upstate New York and he was playing in the woods near his home and he happened across a baby black bear, only to find that mama bear did not approve of them playing together... thankfully he climbed up a tree in time. Whew I heard him tell this story on a podcast, but can't remember which one at the moment.

Posted by: @reepicheep775

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. 

Talking Beasts and Where to Find Them! Wink I'd definitely like to see books like that.

Twitter: Rose_the_Dryad

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Posted : February 8, 2021 11:10 am
daughter of the King
(@dot)
Princess Dot Moderator

Got my copy today. My niblings are all in other states so I don't have small children to read it to but I couldn't resist a shiny hardcover. Even if it is a board book. Tongue Giggle  

I don't actually mind the text at all. It captures the basic gist of the story even though it leaves out the deep parts. I think I would have disliked it more if it was meant to be an early reader for 6-8 year-olds. I really didn't like abridged children's books for that age range as a kid because they left out the exciting bits and I was nearly ready to read the original anyway. Then again, my favorite book at age 7 was the original Peter Pan so I'm probably a terrible judge of what most kids read. Giggle  

As for the "safe" bit, I went back to the book and I think it's meant to convey the feelings they had when they met Aslan rather than how Mr. Beaver described him:

"His voice was deep and rich and somehow took the fidgets out of them. They now felt glad and quiet and it didn't seem awkward to them to stand and say nothing."

That certainly sounds like it evokes a feeling of safety.

Posted by: @scrib

One thing that is very important with any classic literature is that it keeps being revived for the current era.

Exactly! I like this way of reviving the story. It's obviously not meant to be a replacement to the original but it does add to the visibility. Also, board books make it easy to add commentary when you're reading it to kids. So if you think the kid in question is ready to tackle "not safe but good" you can include that when you read it.

Posted by: @reepicheep775

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.

Yes, please. There are various fairytale creature dictionaries out there. A Narnia spin on that would be great. I thought an ABC Narnia book might also be fun, but the only thing I can think of for Z is Zardeenah and a publisher might not find her suitable for a board book unless there was no commentary on who she is. Giggle  

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Posted : February 8, 2021 2:49 pm
The Rose-Tree Dryad
(@rose)
Secret Garden Agent Moderator
Posted by: @dot

I thought an ABC Narnia book might also be fun, but the only thing I can think of for Z is Zardeenah and a publisher might not find her suitable for a board book unless there was no commentary on who she is. Giggle  

There's also Zulindreh (or Zalindreh?) where Bree fought in a battle, apparently. Giggle

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Posted : February 8, 2021 3:11 pm
Glumpuddle
(@gp)
News Poster, Podcast Producer
Posted by: @rose

If I were to rewrite that line... maybe "And he can protect you from anything."

I like your version a bit better. But I don't have a major objection to the original in the context of this board book. 🙂 Both do the job  establishing Aslan as Narnia's hope... which makes things feel hopeless when he is "taken away." Better than the movie anyway. 😛

This post was modified 8 months ago 7 times by Glumpuddle


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Posted : February 8, 2021 4:12 pm
Eustace
(@eustace)
NarniaWeb Junkie

Frankly, I assume the children I will read this board book in the preschool I teach at will just enjoy this book for the pretty pictures. I plan to say what I want while having them look at the pictures. I am well versed in reading board books and some of them have pretty boring lines I don't end up reading instead I say something completely different. But, I do like those other ideas for Narnia board books and I would definitely buy those.


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Posted : February 8, 2021 8:17 pm
The Scribbler
(@scrib)
NarniaWeb Regular

@eustace Spot on:) I used to work at a daycare and I would often embellish the story if it was boring, and that’s something parents could easily do with these books too, for other reasons, as others suggested! (I liked your line @rose !) Glad you liked the artwork @dot , I’m sure that’s what a lot of children (and parents) will like about this book.

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Posted : February 8, 2021 8:54 pm
Cleander
(@the-mad-poet)
NarniaWeb Junkie

@reepicheep775

I would love to see a Narnia bestiary/atlas! Perhaps it could be a series- Fauns and Their Ways, Giants and Their Ways, Talking Mice and Their Ways, etc. Grin  

As to the "pitchforks," I am willing to admit that this book is not posing an inevitable threat to the child's enjoyment of the real thing later on. Eustace's point was well made that many kids are more likely to pay attention to the "pretty pictures" than anything else. 

That being said, it still depends on the individual child. If they are more retentive, or simply get a bit more interested in the story, they are still more likely to run into some level of confusion when they read the actual book. Also, they may think later on that the essence of the story was captured in the board book, and if left to themselves, may just end passing up the real one- they may think they already know what happens, what the story is more or less all about... This is what constitutes the possible risk with this book imo. 

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Posted : February 8, 2021 10:13 pm
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Varnafinde
(@varna)
Princess of the Noldor and Royal Overseer of the Talk About Narnia forum Moderator
Posted by: @gp

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 think my main take of this book is that I don't see the need for it. Why not just wait till your children are a bit older, and then read Lewis' text to them?

But I quite agree that knowing the plot doesn't need to keep a reader away from a second reading of a book. I first read LWW in 1963, at the age of 8, and I must have re-read it dozens of times over the years. The better a book is, the more likely I am to re-read it, and the more slowly I can read it, because I don't need to rush to see what the plot ends up with.

I re-read all the Chronicles at times (have lost track of how many times), and I also get sucked in. It's as you say: It's not about plot suspense. It's about wanting to be in that world.


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Posted : February 20, 2021 2:17 pm
Twin of Shasta
(@twin-of-shasta)
NarniaWeb Newbie

@gp I like it! I love the other board books created for famous novels - Pride and Prejudice, for example. If anything, this book could be the gateway for the next generation to become aware of the world of Narnia.

Carley Anne

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Posted : March 11, 2021 11:13 am
KingEdTheJust
(@kingedthejust)
NarniaWeb Nut
Posted by: @rose
I like that this board book exists and it's fun to see the art, but it seems like it would be better just for the child to wait so that they can enjoy the story in its fullness rather than first experience Narnia with a picture book that only touches on the basics and leaves a lot out.
 
Posted by: @gp

Bear in mind that this is mainly for 0-3 year olds. If it wasn't a board book, it might be a choking hazard for the target audience.

I agree. Narnia is such a deep book and has lots of morals and life lessons that I wouldn't want to leave out. If you give kids the more basic version, they won't really get the full experience and adventure than when you read the real things. Besides, it's not like you have to wait a long time to read Narnia anyway. Most people read the real book when they are really young and they don't lose any of the goodness that it brings when you read it for the first time. It is a children's book after all. Also if the book is designed for 0-3 year old then what is the point of reading? Really young kids, babies almost won't really understand the story at all, no matter how basic it is.  I don't really like the idea of shortening Narnia  or making it more basic. Some concepts cannot be explained to younger kids and I don't want them to alter those concepts just because they are younger. Overall, I feel maybe wait for kids to become a little bit older and then read them the real books. You won't be leaving anything out and kids can grow up loving Narnia all the same!

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Posted : May 16, 2021 5:31 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Guru Friend of NarniaWeb

Just wanted to say here how much I enjoyed the recent discussion on Talking Beasts about the board book of LWW — if there's anyone who hasn't heard it yet and is interested, you can hear it here. It goes into a whole lot of the possible pros and cons of the book — the three presenters have all shared it with their own young kids and seen their responses, some of which were quite surprising! — and I must say, they do a really good job of addressing my biggest fear about the board book: that it'll have so many spoilers that it will lessen the impact of the original story when young readers come to it later on. It turns out that the version of the story in the board book really is so vague and simplified that it doesn't actually give away that much at all!! And indeed, as Fantasia found to her surprise, it may even get kids asking questions and wanting to know more about Narnia, which is a good lead-in for getting them into the "real" books... Grin

In short, I still don't think I'd buy the board book for my kids if I had any — I'd rather wait a few more years until I felt they were ready and then sit down and read the original books (starting with LWW!!) to them, like my mum did with me — but I'm glad to know the board book isn't nearly as bad overall as some of us here were concerned it could be, and if it does get some new readers wanting to explore Narnia further, that can only be a good thing! Many thanks, @fantasia, @gp and @rilian!!! Applause  

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

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Posted : May 31, 2021 2:36 pm
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