The Voyage of The Dawn Treader (novel, not film)

Although the third film in the Narnia series was released on Friday night, I have yet to see it. Perhaps I’m a bit reluctant to do so because I wonder how Disney can truly convey all that C. S. Lewis does in this novel for children adults.

I began reading it to my class about three weeks ago because I wanted them to know of the story from literature before the movie. I wanted them to hear what C. S. Lewis said fresh from his words rather than images filtered through the vision of Hollywood.

It was slow going at first. The vocabulary was a bit advanced for third graders, not used to sophisticated language such as I was when I read C. S. Lewis and E. B. White in my childhood. But, I explained it to them as we went along, and by the time sulky cousin Eustace was turned into a dragon my class was entranced.

We had such an interesting discussion about Eustace’s transformation. Before he became a dragon, they described Eustace as a whiner, baby, pain, complainer, crybaby and mean, selfish, or greedy boy. When he was a dragon they saw him as sad, hurt, confused, scared and lonely. After being de-scaled by Aslan, they noticed that he was happy, out of pain, and grateful. What brilliant children to see the changes that He brings to our human nature.

I loved Lucy going to the magician’s book in Chapter 10. Bravely, she crosses the corridor, ventures into the room where the big book is held, and lays her hand upon its pages.

It was written, not printed; written in a clear, even hand, with thick downstrokes and thin upstrokes, very large, easier than print, and so beautiful that Lucy stared at it for a whole minute and forgot about reading it. The paper was crisp and smooth and a nice smell came from it; and in the margins, and round the big coloured capital letters at the beginning of each spell, there were pictures.

As if that wasn’t enough, Lucy is tempted by the spells the book contains. First, there is an infallible spell to make beautiful her that uttereth it beyond the lot of mortals. And later, after seeing Aslan’s face staring into hers from the page, she turns to a spell which would let you know what your friends thought about you…

What would you do, when confronted with the knowledge of secrets? Or, of knowing the future? What an awful temptation to fall under these spells, with awful consequences which could never be erased.

“Child,” said Aslan, “Did I not explain to you once before that no one is ever told what would have happened?

There are so many lessons in the books of Narnia, so much on faith…

My favorite character in this book is Reepicheep because he is small, but brave.He never fails to address his fears and draw his sword, undaunted by his stature. May I possess the courage of that valiant mouse, while remembering the lesson from Lucy: trust the outcome without knowing what it will be for certain.

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14 thoughts on “The Voyage of The Dawn Treader (novel, not film)”

  1. Oh, that spell book, wasn't it great? I think that was my favorite bit. I read the/a Dutch version of the book last week (my review comes tomorrow), but I had a film tie-in version ("adapted from C. S. Lewis") so I wonder how much it differs from the original. The writing was definitely not difficult.

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  2. Lovely post and new wintry blog background! I always arrive here knowing that I am in for a treat. Sharing this novel with your class seems to have already spurred some wonderful discussion.

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  3. Although I admire the stories of Narnia, I can't stand the preachiness towards the end of the series.I love reading aloud to my class too. We're about 3/4 of the way through "James and the Giant Peach" at the moment and loving it.

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  4. Just finished it myself last week. I am with you, my favorite character is Reepicheep! My son saw the movie last night and said that this one does not follow the book as close as the others…too bad. I love these books and have enjoyed reading it again!!!

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  5. Leswammes, I wonder how the adapted version you read differs from C. S. Lewis' original. I can't imagine that it would contain the same level of meaning, but I look forward to reading your thoughts tomorrow. It's neat that there's a translation in Dutch!Suko, how sweet of you to say that arriving to a change in my template is a treat. Surely it must keep you on your toes! Always looking for the perfect thing, this girl… ;)Sam, James and The Giant Peach (or, any Roald Dahl for that matter) is such a pleasure. I especially like The BFG as a read aloud, and it's interesting to point out to the kids how he often mocks the establishment: education, politics, government, and often with good reason! I know what you mean about Lewis seeming preachy, but that never offends me because to me, it teaches more than preaches.Sara, how fun that we both love Reepicheep! Several children in my class saw the film over the weekend, and they said it had a terribly sad ending. I'll probably see it over break. I'm looking forward to your thoughts should you wish to post them.

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  6. I'm three quarters of the way through the novel and we're going to see the movie with the grand children in their school holidays.I love the way Reepicheep gives his advice when the sea serpent tries to wreck the Dawn Treader and helps save the day. I also enjoy the intimate way the narrator draws the reader in with amusing comments.It's a challenge sharing in a class situation (as I remember when I was teaching juniors), but it's very satisfying to adapt these classics for your students' enjoyment isn't it?

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  7. My girls and I are right around the part where things get good–Eustace isn't a dragon yet, but will be soon. Until then, there's a bit too much about the ship, I guess. It never bothered me when I was young reading it, but I find my kids have less patience. I'm a little afraid to see the movie. I've heard it's quite different.

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  8. There's a lovely vessel from Austin that comes to our wooden boat show every year. Its name? "Dawn Treader". For years the name has nagged at me – I couldn't quite figure out why it seemed so familiar. Now, I know!

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  9. Linda, I think it would be more challenging (and possibly exciting?) to teach Juniors. They could have more insight into a work of literature, but the third graders never cease to amaze me with their perceptions. Read aloud has to be one of my favorite times of the day with them. I'm always looking for something worthy to read that their parents might not. Reepicheep's advice is wonderful!Shelley, I felt the same way about all the descriptions of the ship: the poop deck, starboard, port, and lots more complicated aspects I had to look up to expalin to myself and the children! I could have done with a little less of that; once the story really began, it wasn't so necessary to know every part of the ship.Shoreacres, wasn't the owner of the Dawn Treader clever for naming her ship after the novel?! I'm so glad this post connected the pieces for you.

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  10. It is beautiful here today in both content and appearance. We still have not finished the book but I hope to be able to talk about it soon. Did you read the entire thing to them or did you rely on audio book at all?

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  11. Sweet Frances, always a word of affirmation from you…I read the entire thing to them, no audio, but might I add I am awesome at voices? (You should hear me read The Tale of Despereaux with a French accent!) The children were entranced by this novel, as any one would be when listening to worthy literature, no matter who was reading it aloud. Well, except for Barbara Walters perhaps. ;)I look forward to your thoughts should you finish it.

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  12. I have not read the book, but saw the movie last night. I really enjoyed the film, and loved the mouse, and the dragon transformation. However, from what you've said it seems to me the film might not have captured much of CS Lewis' finer descriptions and meanings. I do wish I had had a 3rd grade teacher who thought to read me classics like these. Congrats Bellezza for being such a passionate teacher.

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  13. I think it's really neat that you shared this with your class. I always loved it when my teachers read a book to the class.The last line of your review really resonates with me–I too have trouble remembering that!

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  14. How wonderful that you are challenging your students with this work. I've not read this one yet myself and look forward to it. I'm with you in that I don't plan to see the movie.

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