NONFICTION

Through the Wardrobe: How C. S. Lewis Created Narnia

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2020. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062798565.
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K-Gr 3–Maslo’s picture book biography spotlights how Clive Staples Lewis became acclaimed author C.S. Lewis. Growing up, he faced numerous challenges: bullies at school, the death of his mother, the brutality of war. Using the characters that had saturated his childhood imagination, Lewis created his own world. The young characters who travel to Narnia not only experience magic and adventure; they learn how to handle adversity. This biography clearly links Lewis’s lived experiences and written stories. For fans of the “Chronicles of Narnia,” these connections will be meaningful. The bold, richly detailed illustrations, crafted with vibrant inks and acrylics, feature numerous gems Narnia fans will enjoy discovering. Images such as a young Lewis drawing a sword-fighting mouse, his cousins sitting in a wardrobe listening to his stories, and a glowing lamppost providing reading light on his school grounds act as subtle reminders that the author’s childhood experiences made a profound influence on his most famous writings. His adult experiences, particularly war and the development of his personal faith and philosophy, are also recognized as important to his works. A particularly effective section of the book offers a broad overview of the “Narnia” series: intricately carved wardrobe doors open and scenes of Narnia are visible, including a panel devoted to each of the seven novels. Extended biographical information and a bibliography are included; end pages show letters from children to Lewis and his responses.
VERDICT A finely illustrated biography equally suited to research or pleasure reading.

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