Finding Narnia: The Story of C. S. Lewis and His Brother Warnie

Roaring Brook. Nov. 2019. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781626726581.
K-Gr 2–Even as a child, author C.S. Lewis, known as “Jack” to his younger brother Warnie and friends, knew how to conjure up vivid worlds. This title explores the childhood bond of the two brothers as their imaginary lands inspired Jack to create Narnia. Warnie’s interest lies in the trains and steamboats of the industrial age, while Jack’s imagination led him to stories of bravery and mouse kings. As difficulties arose because of their mother’s illness and, later two World Wars, the brothers remained close and united by their childhood fantasies. Those fantasies were reawakened when they helped harbor children after the bombing of London, and the children discovered an old wardrobe in the attic where Warnie and Jack played as children. Jack would go on to write “The Chronicles of Narnia” with Warnie completing the mechanical work of typing and editing. Young readers may find some references to British imperialism of India confusing, such as Warnie pretending to be a raja (a king or princely ruler). The watercolor illustrations are muted and ethereal, reflecting both the fantasy worlds created and the realities of a period in history torn by war.
VERDICT This pleasing exploration of Lewis will appeal to young fans who want to learn about the inspiration behind “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

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