Sunday, February 7, 2010
A Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Synopsis from School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-British narrator Alex Jennings does a smashing job with C. S. Lewis' delightful classic (HarperCollins Children's, 1994), the third story in the Narnia series. The tale begins with a poor slave boy named Shasta escaping from his adopted fisherman father who plans to sell him to a brutish stranger. A dignified talking war horse named Bree helps Shasta flee. Jennings plays Shasta with refreshing gentleness-listeners get a sense of the boy's sensitivity and fear as he embarks on the adventure of his life. The talented narrator plays Bree with the right amount of dignity and haughtiness. This horse amuses with his witty observations about human behavior, and sense of equine superiority. The horse and his boy hope to travel north to Narnia, and encounter numerous adventures and strange characters, all beautifully portrayed by Jennings. The most memorable supporting characters are another escaped child, a tough girl named Aravis, and her talking mare called Hwin. Jennings brings these two adventure seekers to life with his crystal clear narration. Thanks to his skills as a storyteller, the action moves rapidly from one exciting episode to the next. Evocative music plays at the beginning and end of each side of the tape. This presentation will enchant young listeners and encourage them to read the other titles in the series. It is helpful for students to have read The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe before enjoying this, but The Horse and the Boy stands alone as enthralling, self-contained entertainment.
I listened to “A Horse and His Boy” as an audio book in the car. Out of the Chronicles of Narnia books that I have read so far (this is book 3 but I am currently listening to book 5, I just fell behind in actually writing about them) this was my least favorite. This was a tough book to listen to for me because the names of the characters were unusual which sometimes made me unsure what they really were. For most of the book I thought Shasta's name was Chester. Bree is a Narnian talking horse who was kidnapped as a foal and taken to another country and used as a warhorse. Shasta was a boy who was found as an infant in a boat by the beach with a man who had died. The fisherman who found him kept him as his son but had him work as hard as a slave. The two meet and decide to run away to Narnia together. Along the way they meet a young girl, Aravis, and a talking mare, Hwin, who are also running away, Aravis from an arranged marriage and Hwin back to Narnia where she was born. Through their journey they meet Edward, Susan and Lucy prior to their first departure from Narnia through the wardrobe. Aslan also makes a few appearances in the novel.
It was interesting to see Susan, Edmond and Lucy as kings and queens. During the first two books I pictured Narnia almost as an island all on it’s own, but when we hear about them trying to get to Arkanland and out of Tashbarn I remembered how Aslan told Diggory and Polly in the first book about the boundaries of Narnia and where they were and were not supposed to go while there. I am glad that I am reading, or rather listening, to these books in order. It is making it more interesting to me as a reader. I can’t wait to find out what other adventures will take place during the rest of the Chronicles. That said, this story would also work as a stand alone novel, I just appreciate having the background information from the previous two stories.