Saturday, July 31, 2010

0 Narnia Nostalgia Part 11: Radio Plays Part 7

The following article reviews both Radio play versions of The Last Battle. “RT” indicates the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version, and “BBC” the British Radio 4 version.

Warning: Spoilers

The previous reviews in the Narnia Nostalgia series have compared and contrasted the RT and BBC versions of the radio plays, considering their relative production quality and how they compare to the C S Lewis books from which they were adapted. The comments made in those reviews generally apply to The Last Battle, so instead of a detailed commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of the plays, this article will concentrate on one particular scene that is included in both plays.

The Last Battle deals with Narnian Eschatology—a twenty-five cent word theologians toss around which just means teachings about “last things.” Christian Eschatology deals with the end of the world as we know it, and the beginning of a new heaven and new earth. Narnia Eschatology deals with the end of Narnia as the Pevencies and other characters had known it, and the beginning of a new Narnia—what Lewis called the “real” Narnia, of which the old Narnia was only a picture.

As the old Narnia comes to an end, we meet the Calormene, Emeth, who has had an encounter with Aslan. He had been a faithful follower of the Calormen god Tash (so he believes), and after finding himself in the “pleasant country” inside the Stable, expects to meet him. Instead, he meets Aslan, who speaks words to him which have perplexed many Christians who have read the book.

Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. …if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. [Chapter 15]

Some have thought that Lewis was teaching Univeralism—that all roads lead to the same destination. The context of the passage and the book as a whole indicate otherwise. Contrary to what the Ape and others were trying to teach, there is no Tashlan – Aslan and Tash are not the same. Throughout the book the differences – and the separateness – of Aslan and Tash are emphasized over and over. The atrocities done in the name of Aslan through the deviousness of the Ape are the result of Narnians believing lies instead of trusting their instincts that Aslan would not require such things as the destruction of the dryad’s forest.

In our search for truth, it must be remembered that the words we use are not nearly as important as the meaning we attach to them. Through the ages there have been people who have done horrific things in the name of Christ. But C S Lewis would say that they actually were serving demons. And there are many who have done works of honor and charity in (what many Christians would consider) demonic names who are much nearer the truth than many who claim the name of Christ.

This concludes the Narnia Nostalgia series. In the coming months leading up to the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie on December 10, reviews are being planned for the following books about The Chronicles of Narnia: The Hidden Story of Narnia by Will Vaus, newly published by Winged Lion Press; and the three books in the Inside Narnia series by Devin Brown – Inside Narnia (2005), Inside Prince Caspian (2008), and Inside the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (due out in October).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Narnia Nostalgia Part 10: Radio Plays Part 6

The following article reviews both Radio play versions of The Silver Chair. “RT” indicates the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version, and “BBC” the British Radio 4 version.

Warning: Mild Spoilers

In Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader we had Reepicheep. In The Silver Chair, Puddleglum. Fans of C S Lewis’s Narnia books very often name these two as favorites, despite the sharp contrast between the two characters. The Mouse has an optimistic exuberance, while the Marsh-wiggle displays an outward pessimism about life. Both, however, surprise the reader by often showing an uncanny, yet down-to-earth wisdom.

In the Prologue to the RT adaptation, C S Lewis step-son Douglas Gresham gives a little insight into the character Puddleglum, who was based on Fred Paxford, the gardener of the Kilns, Lewis’s Oxford home. “Puddleglum” also is a reference to a sixteenth-century poem by John Studley, who described the River Styx from Greek mythology as a “puddle glum.” [Into the Wardrobe: C.S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles by David C. Downing, p. 132] (Imagery related to the Styx is also seen toward the end of the story in the ship ride across the underground inland sea.)

Puddleglum would tell you that his fellow Marsh-wiggles thought he did not take life seriously enough, but Eustace Scrubb (introduced to us in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and his schoolmate, Jill Pole, think of him – at least at first – as a wet blanket. Although pessimists and rivers in Hades are not exactly encouraging, they do remind us that life does have a more serious side, and that the road we must take to accomplish our quest often is filled more with drudgery than excitement.

The quest assigned Eustace and Jill by Aslan has to do with Prince Rilian, the son of King Caspian and Ramadu’s daughter. Although the back story of how Rilian came up missing is related by the owls after the children find themselves in Narnia, the BBC play gives the details up front. In a conversation not found in the book, Eustace is talking with Edmund and Lucy about Narnia, and speculating about what King Caspian would have done after they left.

The dialog fades out and we hear Caspian proposing marriage to Ramandu’s daughter. We are then given details of how Prince Rilian was born, the Queen is killed, and the prince disappears. Interjected are comments by the children back in England about Caspian getting older and older while time most likely moves much more slowly here.

As with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, BBC Playwright Brian Sibley has again chosen to advance the dramatization without a narrator. His apparent desire to link the three children with what is happening in Narnia creates some incongruity. When Eustace arrives in Narnia, he doesn’t recognize Caspian because he has grown old. He says he has not really thought about the time difference – directly contradicting the conversation Sibley has added.

The lack of narration also is awkward in scenes where the characters must be called upon to describe what is happening. Paul McCusker’s RT version avoids such embarrassing dialog, but, as with the Dawn Treader, the narration becomes unnecessarily tedious at times.

Both versions do a good job of capturing the importance of “remembering the signs” given by Aslan (See a previous article on the BBC-TV adaptation.), arguably Lewis’s most important theme in the story. However, the BBC had to do some major editing to fit a time frame about two-thirds that of the RT, and one glaring omission stands out. When Jill is left on the cliff and sees Aslan, there is a protracted dialog between them. Aslan, in words reminiscent of Isaiah 55:1 and John 7:37, invites Jill to drink from the stream. Jill, frightened by Aslan’s appearance and not-so-reassuring words, asks if he would leave while she drank, or if there is another stream. Lewis is emphasizing that God is the only source to quench our spiritual thirst, and we must come to him on his terms.

While RT elects to include the details of this scene, it does miss a seemingly minor detail that Lewis uses to make a point about education in his day. The impersonal use of last names at the “experimental school” is avoided. In the book, Eustace and Jill usually call each other “Scrubb” and “Pole.” RT uses only their first names in dialog between the two. Lewis was emphasizing that allowing the students to do basically whatever they want and treating bullies as merely “interesting psychological studies” has depersonalized the students.

If Reepicheep and Puddleglum have last names, we are not told what they are. In simpler times, last names were descriptive in order to distinguish two people with the same given name from each other – John the Smith and John the Miller. Many of us remember a time in the mid-twentieth century when school children called each other by their last names. Fortunately, the popularity of that “tradition” seems to be dying out.

Let’s hope the popularity of two of Lewis’s most lovable characters never dies. They may have their flaws, but they still have something to teach us. While you’re waiting for the Dawn Treader movie to come out this December, pop in a CD and listen to their advice.

From Chapter 12 of the book:

Rilian: “The blessing of Aslan upon this honest Marsh-wiggle.”

Eustace: “Good for your, Puddleglum! You’re the only one of us with any sense, I do believe.”

Monday, May 31, 2010

Narnia Nostalgia Part 9: Radio Plays Part 5

The following article reviews both Radio play versions of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. “RT” indicates the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version, and “BBC” the British Radio 4 version.

Warning: Mild Spoilers

“You don’t suppose I’d have left my kingdom and put out to sea unless all was well.”
- King Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C S Lewis, chapter 2

As this review is being written, details of the Walden Media adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are a bit sketchy. However, the official press release from back in July of 2009, as well as subsequent reports, seem to indicate that in the upcoming movie version not all is well in Narnia. The description of the film seems to indicate the voyage was embarked upon to save Narnia “from an unfathomable fate.”

As was mentioned earlier in this series, adapting a book as a screenplay or radio drama can be challenging. (See especially Narnia Nostalgia Part 3 and Narnia Nostolgia Part 5.) The biggest difficulty is often maintaining the spirit of the story intended by the author. It remains to be seen how well Walden version will capture C S Lewis’s vision.

The Radio adaptations of Dawn Treader follow the book very closely (both include King Caspian’s words that “all is well”), but do make minor changes. While the the RT version uses much of Lewis’s narrative, the BBC radio play does not use a narrator at all. Even the setting of the story is established with a conversation between Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace. This works fairly well through most of the play, but there are points where those unfamiliar with the story could probably use a bit of narrative explanation.

The narration in the RT version, however, is rather tedious at times. And, unlike previous episodes in the series, the splendid musical accompaniment occasionally overwhelms the narration and dialogue. While still a quality work, RT’s Dawn Treader falls a little under the creative bar set by their first four Narnia dramas.

The two main characters Lewis uses in the book to convey important themes are Lucy and Eustace, who is introduced to the reader in this book. Eustace is presented as annoying and self-centered, which contrasts to the bravery he demonstrates later in the book. RT does an excellent job creating a picture of the boy, taking the time to fully develop his character. The BBC drama omits too much and tires to take shortcuts. Twice Lucy and Edmund react to their cousin’s droning by saying, “Eustace, shut up!” – a phrase which, although it conveys his tendency to be annoying, does not seem in keeping with a King and Queen of Narnia, children though they be. BBC also omits the water stealing incident and rushes through the account of his “undragoning.”

The chapter in the story which gives us the most insight into Lucy is “The Magician’s Book.” Lucy has already demonstrated her courage by being willing to go to the room with the book and say the spell to make the Dufflepuds visible. But there is a flaw in her character which Aslan wants to work on. This is shown in Lucy’s reaction to the pages containing the beautification spell and the spell “which would let you know what your friends thought of you.” The growling face of Aslan in the book keeps her from saying the first spell, but saying the second spell enables her to hear a conversation between her schoolmates back in England – a conversation which was not very flattering to Lucy.

The RT adaption dramatizes both pages from the Magician’s Book, and includes the part where Lucy sees her sister Susan. Aslan’s rebuke to Lucy for eavesdropping on her friends is also left in. The BBC version omits the second spell, and the fact the image of Susan appears in the book. When Aslan appears, he has no rebuke at all, only joyous greetings. Because of these omissions, the importance of what is happening with Lucy is completely lost.

Lewis is conveying, through Lucy’s reaction to the spells, that she is developing a problem with vanity, a fault her sister Susan will be overcome with by the end of the Chronicles. In Lewis’s nonfiction, he distinguishes between the pride of vanity and a more diabolical pride where the person does not care what people think. (See “The Great Sin,” Chapter 8 of CHRISTIAN BEHAVIOUR - Section 3 of Mere Christianity.)

Although Susan will get caught up in vanity, given what the author wrote in Mere Christianity, it appears he was indicating that she had not slipped into “the real black, diabolical Pride [that] comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you.” Lucy would apparently overcome her tendency to vanity, and there will still be hope for Susan.

The self-centered pride Eustace was beginning to sink into needed to be dealt with more severely, but Aslan still was able to help him “change his skin.” RT captured the importance of these confrontations with Aslan well. Hopefully Walden Media will, too.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Narnia Nostalgia Part 8: Radio Plays Part 4

The following article reviews both Radio play versions of Prince Caspian. “RT” indicates the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version, and “BBC” the British Radio 4 version.

Warning: Mild Spoilers

The Walden/Disney movie of Prince Caspian begins with an agonizing cry and the birth of a child. Those who had seen the first movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, must have been scratching their heads at that point. It is a full eight minutes into the film before we see any of the characters from the first film.

When Prince Caspian was published in 1951, it was the second book* in the series and was better known by its subtitle, Return to Narnia. As C S Lewis step-son Douglas Gresham reminds us in his introduction to the RT version, the author wasted no time in getting the Pevensies back.

Those who have adapted Prince Caspian for the stage, TV, movies, or radio, have had to decide how to deal with the story within a story. (Chapters four through seven in the book are the telling of the life of Prince Caspian to the point when the Pevensies arrive in Narnia.) Walden chose to begin with Caspian fleeing, while the BBC TV version begins with Caspian in the courtyard of King Miraz. In contrast to the their video counterparts, both Radio Play versions reference Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy immediately.

The BBC version begins with Caspian’s nurse telling him the story of the King Peter, Queen Susan, King Edmund, and Queen Lucy – a sort of reversal of what happens in the book, where the Pevensies are told Caspian’s story. Scriptwriter Brian Sibley decided to deal with the “story within a story” by alternating between the two story lines.

Since the Pevensies are not called to Narnia until late in Caspian’s story, switching back and forth between story lines causes the story to be unbalanced. The Walden movie solved this by putting the call to Narnia near the beginning of the story. The BBC Radio version adds an additional scene at the professor’s home, but most of the story is about Caspian until the Pevensies show up in Narnia half way through the production.

Paul McCusker, who wrote the script and directed the RT production, decided to buck the trend and used the story line as it is laid out in the book. The children are immediately returned to Narnia, and the details about the prince are added when they meet up with Trumpkin, the Dwarf. This actually works very well, and is much easier to follow. Perhaps Lewis knew what he was doing after all.

The RT running time of three hours and twenty minutes also allows time for some details that are missing in all the other recorded dramatizations of the book. Lewis, perhaps mindful of the criticism that his first book did not explain how foodstuffs were provided in a Narnia where it was always winter, was careful to include how food was obtained for the Pevensies’ trip to Aslan’s How. RT includes the apples and the bear meat.

Lewis’s theme of joy also comes through in the RT version by including the celebrations. As in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, they are not afraid to mention Bacchus and Silenus.

Both Radio versions do a fabulous job of portraying Lucy’s first meeting with Aslan. The importance of following what is right despite what others think is an important theme, and both productions give this scene the weight it deserves.

For comments on the relative production quality of the plays, please refer to the last two articles in this series below.


*For why Prince Caspian is now numbered as book 4, see the article, The order of the Narnia chronicles.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Narnia Nostalgia Part 7: Radio Plays Part 3

The following article reviews both Radio play versions of The Horse and His Boy. “RT” indicates the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version, and “BBC” the British Radio 4 version.

Warning: Spoilers


Vocalizing the full name of the first title character (The Horse) is a challenge to both the imagination and one’s articulation skills. Nick Burnell (RT) and Martin Jarvis (BBC) were both up to the task of imagining and imitating a talking horse.

As indicated in the last review in this series, the sound effects in the Radio Theatre adaptation are far superior to the BBC version. However, after a six year hiatus, the BBC version of The Horse and His Boy did make some progress compared to their version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The laughable imitations of animal sounds have virtually disappeared. Even Aslan’s roar is much better.

Both portrayals do a good job of staying true to the story C. S. Lewis wrote. However, the BBC version still uses synthesized music, and the overall effect of the RT production, with the full orchestration, is still much superior.

RT also does a better job at the part of the story when Shasta (the other title character – (His Boy) and his traveling companion, Aravis, become separated in Tashbaan, the capital of Calormen, a country to the south of Narnia. When prominent characters become separated, there is always the problem of dealing with how to covey both parts of the story.

C S Lewis’s friend and colleague JRR Tolkien faced this challenge in writing The Lord of the Rings. He dealt with the situation of the separation of the members of the Fellowship primarily by adopting three separate story lines – a few chapters for Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas, a few for Merry and Pippin, and a few for Frodo and Sam, etc. He also uses the device of one character telling his story to another character in order to fill in the details.

The Horse and His Boy is not nearly so complicated as The Lord of the Rings, but dealing with a divided story was still a challenge. Much like Tolkien, Lewis devotes comparatively long passages to what is happening to Shasta, and then to what is going on with Aravis.

The BBC version uses a different tact. The scene cuts back and forth from one character to the other several times. While the playwright, Brian Sibley, does a great job of tying the cuts together using common themes, the overall effect is rather distracting and at times a bit hard to follow.

The RT adaptation basically follows Lewis’s tact. The text first follows the adventures of Shasta, and then of Aravis. This allows some suspense to build as Shasta (and the first-time reader) does not know what is happening to Aravis and if she will make it to their arranged meeting place. In the BBC production, this tension is lost.

As indicated above, both dramatizations do a great job of presenting Lewis’s story and capturing its spirit. One of the main themes of the book is how God is working behind the scenes in our lives, even when we don’t know him or recognize him.

When Shasta talks to Aslan in the wilderness, the Lion tells him,

I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.

Shasta asks why the Lion wounded Aravis. As he does so often in the Chronicles, Aslan responds that he “tells no one any story but his own.”

God has a story for you. You may not like the details, and may wonder about the details of the story belonging to someone else. But, God is only interested in telling you your own story – if you will listen – not debating with you about the details, or telling you why he has dealt with others the way he has.

…Peter… asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “…what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:21-22 NIV)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Narnia Nostolgia Part 6: Radio Plays Part 2

The following are reviews of both Radio play versions of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (BBC Radio 4 version)

So, do mothballs falling on a wardrobe floor really sound like marbles being dumped out on a Formica counter-top? That’s just one of the sound effects in this presentation which interferes with the suspension of unbelief. But it is certainly not the worst.

While the story itself is well written, the performance suffers from skimping on the technical aspects of the audio. And it’s not like the effects people are not capable. The sounds used to enhance the spring thaw are quite well done. They must have recorded actual birds singing, and, with headphones on, the buzzing bee sounds like it is flying around your head.

But the talking animal noises were created by the actors themselves. The snarls of the wolves are quite unbelievable, and the hoots and howls of the evil beasts and ghouls at the Stone Table make it difficult to take the scene seriously.

The roar of Aslan is just plain lame. After Aslan roars, he says, “My, but that was good.” But most listeners will be thinking, or even saying out loud, “No, it wasn’t.” Would it have been so difficult to include the roar of a real lion and blend it in with the actor’s voice?

With all these annoyances, it is surprising how well the actors are able to convey the story. Credit must be given again to Brian Sibley for a good script, and to the actors for being able to “get into” their roles.

Devoted fans will also appreciate the little details that are included. For example, the video versions of the story (See Narnia Nostalgia: Part 1 and Part 2.) omit the Robin which leads the Pevensies from Tumnus’ home to Mr. Beaver. The Focus on the Family Radio Theater version (See below.) also omits it. The Robin is author C. S. Lewis’s first hint that the eternal winter has been broken and that spring is on the way. But the BBC Radio play is the only dramatized recording that includes the bird.

What is missed, though, is the sense of joy and wonder that is found in the book. The Radio Theater version may be missing the bird, but it captures that sense.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (The Focus on the Family Radio Theater version)

The FotF presentation combines a great script (arguably even better than the BBC version) with good acting and absolutely brilliant sound effects. It also emphasizes the joy and wonder of the book. Not only can you sense Lucy’s awe of Narnia as she visits it for the first time, but the joy of the place before the Witch took control, and after Aslan returns, is accentuated better than in any of the dramatizations (audio or video) of the work from the other studios.

Tumnus’ description of the feasting and bliss of Narnia before the White Witch imprisoned it in perpetual winter is superb. And he is not afraid to mention Silvanus and Bacchus – characters which the other presentations avoid. (See this review of the book Prince Caspian for the characters’ significance: Divine Revelers.) There is also an obvious joy in Aslan’s camp at the Stone Table when the three children are brought there.

The creators of the Walden/Disney movie missed the joy and wonder by interjecting the thought that the Pevencies would have needed to be convinced to stay. In the book, Lewis assumes the children would be caught up in the magic and excitement of Narnia, their predilection for adventure having already been established. (They are excited about exploring outdoors, and resort to exploring the house when it rains.)

In the movie, the adventures they get caught in often seem more inspired by a video game (i.e. riding ice in the river) than any “magic” based on what Lewis wrote. The spirit captured by the FotF production is much to be preferred to any action/adventure presented on the big screen.

The climax of this Radio Theater episode is the sacrifice of Aslan on the Stone Table and his subsequent resurrection. The use of Lewis’s narrative, enhanced with sound effects and dramatic music, is “spot on” in capturing the significance of the scene.

In his excellent review of this dramatization, Greg Wright of Hollywood Jesus concludes that the prolonged death scene is not exactly “family friendly.” However, following FotF’s guidelines (“Not Recommended for children Under the Age of 8″ ) parents should not have to worry.

Another inventive touch comes at the end of the movie when the children re-immerge from the wardrobe back in England – but that should be saved as a surprise for the first-time listener.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Narnia Nostolgia 5: The Radio Plays Part 1

BBC Radio 4 aired The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 1988. A few years passed until the series was taken up again in 1994 with The Horse and His Boy, and finished in 1997 with The Last Battle. These were produced originally under the series title “Tales of Narnia.”
Focus on the Family Radio Theatre began their series with the more popular Lion, the Witch in 1998, but went back “to the beginning” with Magician’s Nephew in 1999. The series was completed in chronological order with The Last Battle being aired in 2002. (CD sets of the Focus series are numbered in chronological order, beginning with Magician’s Nephew.)*

The following is an introduction to the radio plays, and a review of both versions of The Magician’s Nephew.

Different mediums require different methods and stratagems. As the old saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” so it is only natural that differences will arise among the original books, the radio plays, and the videos. Both the books and the radio plays revolve around words – but not words exclusively. A book may also add maps, illustrations, and pictures; a radio play adds voice inflection and sound effects. In a movie, you can have relatively long periods of silence where pictures are conveying the story, but in a radio play, “dead air” kills the story.

An advantage of both the written medium and radio is that it leaves much to the reader’s (or listener’s) imagination. For film, writers and directors must work out the details (usually with a large team of prop designers, special effects people, etc.) of how every detail should look. Instead of hearing descriptions of what everything is like, the viewer sees it.

The difficulty of an audio play is, then, that it must accomplish much in words, while not just feeling like a “reading” of the text – for then it would be just an audio book. Since there are so many words involved, radio plays are usually read directly from the script instead of being memorized. This often results in a rather stilted presentation. Both radio versions of The Magician’s Nephew suffer from this, but the actors in the Focus on the Family version do a much better job of sounding like they are actually “in” the story.

The acting in the Focus version is much better, and the story is helped by appropriate music and sound effects. While the BBC Radio 4 version uses (sparingly) what sounds like synthesized music, the Focus dramatization is backed by a full orchestra. The sound effects in the British version are often poorly done, while those in the Radio Theatre production are excellent. For example, when the children and the Witch are fleeing the ruins of Charn, you mostly hear slow footsteps in the BBC adaptation, while you hear running footsteps and crumbling buildings in the Focus version. This is enhanced further with dramatic music.

An added bonus to the Radio Theatre version is that Douglas Gresham, step-son of Narnia author C S Lewis, shares a few insights at the beginning and end of the story. These short sound bites are almost worth the price of the CD’s by themselves.

A word of appreciation must be given to the writers who adapted the books for these dramatizations. Brian Sibley (BBC) and Paul McCuster (Focus) have faithfully followed the books and should be praised for their fine work as playwrights. McCuster was not afraid to embellish a bit to emphasize a theme in the book. (For example, the scene with Digory and his mother in her room before he ends up in Narnia is added to strike home his desire to see her recover from her illness.) And Sibley’s addition of a grown-up Digory as the storyteller helps to make the narrator’s voice more personal (although Lewis often uses the narrator in later books to let the reader in on things Digory would not have known about).

If you would like to familiarize (or re-familiarize) yourself with The Chronicles of Narnia, either radio drama would do well for that purpose. Focus on the Family does not recommend the Radio Theatre series for those under eight years of age, and that, perhaps, is a good recommendation for the books and videos as well.

The Radio Theatre production can be purchased online through the usual American outlets. For those in the United States, the BBC Radio adaptation may be hard to come by, and usually must be imported from Great Britain (which is rather expensive). There are copies available on the Amazon UK website

*For a discussion of the “proper” order of the stories, see The order of the Narnia chronicles.