Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Princess and the Goblin

(an update on our Summer Reading List)

We just finished The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald and my children adored it. This fairy tale has something for every child: a princess, a mysterious grandmother-queen, goblins and a local boy who has the courage of a prince.

Though the language is archaic and difficult to understand at times, my seven-year-old son was on the edge of his seat the entire time and always wanted to hear one more chapter.  At times the attention span of my five-year-old daughter was stretched to the limit, but she, too, eagerly awaited a new chapter each day. I don't mind reading my children books with outdated language, because they often stop me to ask what a certain word means and it provides good opportunities to broaden their vocabulary.

Much Christian imagery is to be found in this book and other fairy tales that MacDonald wrote, just as in the the works of C.S. Lewis, who claimed MacDonald as his greatest source of inspiration.  I did not point this out directly to my children, because I hope that they will discover this for themselves when they are older.  I myself have such wonderful memories of reading the Narnia books as a child and enjoying them purely as fairy tales. Then, as a college student, I reread them and discovered treasures that profoundly helped my faith in God to grow.  And I want to give my kids the same opportunity.

I noticed my son flipping through the book several days after we had finished it. He was reading some of Curdie's rhymes that scare away the goblins.  Then, he started making up his own rhymes!  I was thrilled to hear him rhyming and pretending to scare goblins.  As a children's pastor and teacher, I see him learning from this book on several fronts: strengthening language skills; using the imagination; and developing Christian spirituality through pondering the mysterious aspects of the book.  What fun to be a child and make your own adventures!

Princess Irene with her mysterious great-grandmother
who has no wrinkles. 

 I highly recommend this one as a family read-a-loud for 
children ages 5 and up. 

1 comment:

  1. Just bought $0.99 version and sent it to Jonah's Kindle. I'm waiting to see if it has illustrations. If it doesn't, I'll buy one of the specifically-advertised illustrated ones. I went ahead and gambled on this one, because it included a second book (The Princess and the Curdie). Micah will be excited, because he loves George MacDonald, and it looks like there are several available inexpensively for Kindle.