Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Baynes, who died recently, had been one of my favorite illustrators since I first picked up the boxed set of Narnia books my mother had brought back from England and (she thought) hidden securely for Christmas. It was the summer between first and second grade so my reading skills were not well developed, nor was my sneakiness (both improved over time). I had not previously seen the delightful casing that boxed sets come in but unerringly pulled The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe out of the box and started reading. It was appealing but just too difficult. I put it back after a chapter or so, but kept thinking about it, and foolishly asked my mother later that day or the next, "What is turkish delight?" How could I have realized what a giveaway question it was? Of course, she realized instantly that I had been poking about and was not pleased with me. Narnia was firmly hidden away until she thought I was old enough, and then she had me begin with The Magician's Nephew. Several years later we were in Toronto, and one bookstore we visited had a beautiful Pauline Baynes map of Narnia hanging in the children's section. We were delighted to find they were for sale, and promptly bought one. I remember when we were on the plane flying back to Boston my mother and I suddenly looked at each other, and we realized we'd left the poster/map in the trunk of the rental car! Eventually we bought another and it hung on the stairs near our favorite books for years. I was not the only one who admired Baynes or cherished this map.


LaurieA-B said...

Interesting that your mother wanted you to read The Magician's Nephew first. That's what I think of as the "new order"--it's #1 since the renumbering. My childhood slipcased set (early '80s American) is in the original order, LWW first. I like reading LWW first, because I like it better, and because you get to enjoy the origin story about the lantern.

I am not too concerned about what order Iris reads Narnia, but I do want her to watch the REAL Star Wars first (another childhood favorite of mine).

CLM said...

My mother's rationale was that was what CSL recommended.

By the way, I was VERY disappointed with actual turkish delight. I expected it to taste more like Bonomo Chocolate Turkish Taffy.