She was nearly inconsolable at the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when she learned that Lucy and Edmund, like Peter and Susan before them, would not be returning to Narnia.
“You are too old, children,” said Aslan, “and you must begin to come close to your own world now.”
So did N.
She was determined not to enjoy the next book if Lucy was not in it — poor Edmund, being a boy, was dispensable. But page by page, she adjusted, and she fell in love with Eustace and Jill, the new main characters, just as CS Lewis predicted she would. He knows how to tug a child this way and that just enough to keep them engaged.
The Narnia books have been less wonderful than I expected. So far I’m not bothered by the Christian undertones, as many critics of Narnia are, and N draws no parallels at all, since she hasn’t been raised in a religious environment. When Aslan tells Lucy she must come to know him by another name in her own world, N rolls her eyes at his carelessness — “Oh Aslan! He forgot to tell her what that name is!”
I don’t offer my own ideas here; I just keep reading and answer questions when she asks them. And though I’m enjoying the stories, I do find the series uneven. A friend who was reading the books with her sons recently described it well — The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a great book, she said; the rest are just okay adventure stories, some better than others. But with the exception of The Horse and His Boy, N has been enthralled right the way through.
I love the books because she loves them. When she’s having a difficult day, she tells me she thinks about either our upcoming Thailand trip, or else Narnia.
And I can picture her there, walking between a unicorn and a faun, with a particularly chatty mouse perched on her shoulder.
A few days ago, after she’d left for school, I went into her room to put some laundry away, and I noticed something I hadn’t seen before. A loose tile on her floor had this message neatly filling the square:
This is the place
to get into
When we asked her about the floor that night, she looked a little sheepish, realizing one probably shouldn’t write on one’s floor, no matter how badly it needs replacing. Is it a secret door, we asked? Does it really lead to Narnia? Is that why you’re sometimes tired in the morning, because you’ve spent the night as a Narnian queen?
A smirk and a giggle.
“Yes,” said she, and showed us a treasure she’d found there just the night before. It was a gold button with a royalish-looking emblem on it.
“Sometimes I take the dogs with me too.”