The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian—The Original Novel. By C.S. Lewis. HarperEntertainment. $7.99 (oversize paperback); $6.99 (standard paperback).
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian—The Movie Storybook. Adapted by Lana Jacobs. HarperEntertainment. $8.99.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian—Fight for the Throne. Adapted by J.E. Bright. HarperEntertainment. $4.99.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian—This Is Narnia; Lucy’s Journey. Adapted by Jennifer Frantz. HarperTrophy. $3.99 each.
C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series is not really in need of a revival – it has remained popular for more than 50 years – but it is certainly getting a boost from the movie industry. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, released in 2005, was successful enough to spawn a sequel, Prince Caspian. The chronology of the movies is confusing, but so is that of the books: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first book written (1950) but stands second in the event sequence, while Prince Caspian was written second (1951) but is fourth in terms of the overall plot.. The films, of course, do not follow Lewis’ events slavishly, and the time sequencing in the Narnia books is itself flexible enough (with events in Narnia and on Earth occurring at different rates) so that the movies can make of the stories pretty much what they will.
The film version of Prince Caspian has inspired quite a number of books, of which this crop is only a sampling. The “purest” books are two versions of the original novel, albeit with actors from the film on their covers and stills from the movie inside. The text is the same in both paperbacks, and includes the book’s original black-and-white drawings, which are less spectacular than the movie images but considerably more atmospheric.
The other books here chop up the story, and the film, in various ways. The Movie Storybook is a thin hardcover that is just what the title says: the entire film compressed into 48 pages of movie images and connective text. This book is based on the screenplay, which is based on the novel – which means it is twice removed from Lewis’ original conception, but close to what the filmmakers created. The rest of these books are thin paperbacks. Prince Caspian—Fight for the Throne is also an adaptation from the movie screenplay, lacking any movie stills and written at about a second-grade reading level. For even younger children, This Is Narnia and Lucy’s Journey are Stage 2 books in the “I Can Read!” series, which means they are intended for kindergartners and other just-developing young readers. Scenes from the film amply illustrate both books, each of which tells only a part of the movie’s story – enough, perhaps, to whet young appetites for a trip to the film…or, even better, to get them interested enough so that, within a few years, they will want to read the original Prince Caspian novel in the form in which Lewis wrote it.