The Horse and His Boy

Book cover: 'The Horse and His Boy'
C.S. Lewis
Chronicles of Narnia
Number of pages: 
224 pages
Grade / Age level: 

The Horse and His Boy takes place in a neighboring country, but in the same "world" as Narnia, and during the later parts of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A runaway slave, Shasta, and a runaway princess, Aravis, team up with two talking horses to escape from their own land of Calormen into the free land of Narnia. The story is rich in its portrayal of other cultures in this "other world" with an interesting focus on the interaction between the two children. Here is a small sample:

Both the children unsaddled their horses and the horses had a little grass and Aravis produced rather nice things to eat from her saddle-bag. But Shasta sulked and said No thanks, and that he wasn't hungry. And he tried to put on what he thought very grand and stiff manners, but as a fisherman's hut is not usually a good place for learning grand manners, the result was dreadful. And he half knew that it wasn't a success and then became sulkier and more awkward than ever. Meanwhile the two horses were getting on splendidly. They remembered the very same places in Narnia - "the grasslands up above Beaversdam" and found that they were some sort of second cousins once removed. This made things more and more uncomfortable for the humans until at last Bree said, "And now, Tarkheena, tell us your story. And don't hurry it - I'm feeling comfortable now."

Aravis immediately began, sitting quite still and using a rather different tone and style from her usual one. For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you're taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay writing. The differences is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays. (pgs 34-35)

It is reminiscent of classic stories set in the Middle East (such as the Arabian Nights) and might be best enjoyed by mid-to-upper grade school children.

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