This holiday season was a bonanza for librarians serving youth as we filled requests for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Hollywood may or may not do a great service to a book, but it causes interest in the book and new readers come to appreciate the written word. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is only one part of The Chronicles of Narnia, a seven part series. Lewis, a noted Christian thinker, author and lecturer, as well as an English literature professor at Oxford, wrote the first Narnia book in 1950. The movie was a fantastic spectacle with great battles, wonderful special effects, and a delightful cast. My favorite was Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie. The White Witch, played by Tilda Swinton was also very good. (I especially loved the frost on her eyelashes!) Our library has another version of this book on DVD. It is a production from 1988 done for the "Wonderworks" series for PBS. It was a magnificent production then, but with all of today's special effects, it seems a little tired. If children can't get enough of the story, you might check it out and do a compare and contrast discussion of the two movies and the book.
Want to add even more to the discussion? Look at The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel. There is a copy in Juvenile Reference and a circulating copy in the Oversize books. The Narnia entry tells all about the land of Narnia, the creation of it, the laws, the history of Narnia and even a map. Children who enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia may also enjoy the sweet fantasy of Edward Eager's Half Magic. It also deals with a family and some special magic. Other fantasies to check out are J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Cycle which begins with The Book of Three and, of course, Harry Potter!
The other book-related movie this holiday season is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This latest version is wonderful, although I still love the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth better. For teens who love romance this may be the perfect time to encourage reading Jane Austen and viewing her other novels to movies. Emma can be viewed with Gwyneth Paltrow or Alicia Silverstone in Clueless. And don't forget Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. Movies and reading go hand in hand for the most satisfactory experience. Enjoy both mediums!