As an adult, checking the mail is never as exciting as it was in one's youth. Most adults consider a good day of mail one that includes no junk mail, advertisements, or the dreaded curse word of grown-up life: bills. And yet peering into that mail box still seems, at times, to be a great adventure. Perhaps something unexpected will arrive, a letter from a friend or relative, an early arrival from Amazon, or a completely unforeseen gift. For me, at least, there's always a little bit of child-like wonder in going to the mail box. And so it was that on one such trip to the mail box recently, a happy occasion awaited me, a book in the mail that I did not order. Thanks to my good friend, Rod Zwonitzer at KFUO, Zoe and I received a copy of a pop-up book of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. Not only was this an unexpected gift, but it has continues to bring joy to Zoe each nigh we read itt: "I read dada's book?!" "Yes, Zoe, we can read the book." Here are the pictures of each page along with a few annotations and quotations.
This page is Zoe's favorite. The look on her face as she opens it to reveal Aslan's face is exactly that the same as that of the Pevensie children in Lion. Witch, and the Wardrobe, one of awe-filled fear and joyful giddiness. After all, he is not a tame lion. But he is good. And the fact that Zoe comprehends that without having read a page is simply amazing and worth watching over and over again just like reading the book.
When Zoe opens the little slide flap containing the White Witch, revealing the wardrobe, she once again perceives that the Witch is bad: "Oh no!" Granted, we've read the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, but even two year olds know that witches are bad. It's like rediscovering Narnia all over again every time the page is opened.
For the page depicting The Horse and His Boy, we enjoy taking the reins and riding off into imaginary adventures, moving the pages to mimic the horse's pounding hooves, while I hear Zoe urging me on, "Mo page, dada. I see anuh page." And ever since reading about this particular part of the story, she has taken a greater affinity in riding upon my back up further up our stairs.
The Prince Caspian page has become more fun as we read as well. At first she didn't realize the presence of the animals. But now each detail rarely escapes her attention, right down to the sword, the magical horn, and the bad guy in the middle!
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has always been one of my favorites (in addition to LWW) and this page certainly does not disappoint. It is fascinating to watch the imagination of a two year old at work as her eyes dart from the mermaids to the people on board the great vessel and then to the secret panel behind which Reepicheep hides.
Second to Aslan, I think Reepicheep (or Reesheep as Zoe says), is her favorite character. He certainly is one of mine just as he was for Lewis as well.
I'm a little surprised that the creators of this pop-up book chose to depict the parliament of owls instead of something from the under land or perhaps the freeing of Prince Rilian. Nevertheless, the owls are an important part of the story, and having Glimfeather soar off the page makes for superb reading with Zoe: "Hoo! Hoo!"
The last and final page, showcases the iconic scene from The Last Battle, where the animals stream through the stable door and further up and further in to the real Narnia. I couldn't think of a better illustration for the eschaton of the chronicles in pop-up format. The vibrant colors, key characters, and vivid imagination are all on display. Our nightly ritual of picking our favorite animals is usually accompanied by the ever-familiar request: "Dada, I read more book?! Gan. Gan. Gan." Apparently Zoe already appreciates a good fairy story, one that does not end but goes on and on, as each chapter is greater than the last.