Narnia-mania is upon us. No, that's not a country wedged somewhere between Norway and Romania; it's a fever occasioned by the imminent release of a movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first volume of C.S. Lewis's "Narnia Chronicles." Here are only a few of the many new titles available to readers who catch the virus.
You can curl up with the Companion to Narnia, by Paul F. Ford, in a revised and expanded edition (HarperSanFrancisco; paperback, $16.95), or you can flip through The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, by Perry Moore (HarperSanFrancisco; paperback, $19.95). You can take The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide, by Peter J. Schakel (Eerdmans; paperback, $14), or you can throw yourself on the mercy of C.S. Lewis & Narnia for Dummies, by Richard Wagner (Wiley; paperback, $19.99). The Dummy book's author has also written Christianity for Dummies, which hands a clue to those benighted souls who have not read the chronicles themselves: They are replete with Christian allegory.
Who would write seven volumes of fantasy with religious overtones? The answer can be found in a small pile of books devoted to the scribe himself. In The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, by Alan Jacobs (HarperSanFrancisco, $25.95), you will learn that Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was a self-named man. "In 1902 or 1903, he quite suddenly announced to his mother, father, and older brother that from that day forth he would no longer be known as Clive, but rather as 'Jacksie' " -- later shortened to Jack.
-- Dennis Drabelle