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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Fife

ReadingMagic - Who are three of your favorite characters from YA books & why? Day 20

I have three characters from books for youth or from my youth that I have loved since I first read them. First is Digory Kirke from The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis.

Written as a prequel, the book tells the story of the founding of Narnia, following the destruction of the dark world Charn, and like the other books in The Chronicles of Narnia, we get to view the events from the eyes of children. Digory and his neighbor and friend Polly are used as guinea pigs for his wicked Uncle Andrew, after actual guinea pigs cease to function for his exploratory purposes. What I loved about Digory is that he is still a little boy with problems faced by a little boy. His mother is sick & his fear is that he will be left an orphan. Placed in preposterous situations for a young boy, he acts as a young boy might - intially selfishly on Charn, and then doing what he can to try to correct what his thoughtless actions caused. When Jadis of the doomed world of Charn is brought to the new world of Narnia by mistake, he is still expected to fix the mess he has made. As in the other narnia books, he is given a task that will require sacrifice on his part. He is tempted by Jadis. And ultimately, he gives up what might save his mother's life because his heart is truly in the right place. His journey is fraught with emotion. I liked the book & the character as a child, but then when I grew up, I discovered that he is in a way a stand in for every one of us. What do we do when push comes to shove? Do we have faith? Do we do what is right because it is the right thing to do, or because we are "supposed to?" Every one of us makes selfish Decisions and every one of us needs to do what we can to overcome our selfish impulses.

Digory was in the running for my oldest son's name, but his then 5 year old sister vetoed that... He still got a C.S. Lewis book name though.

My next 2 characters weren't written when I was a kid and come from the same book series. One of them is my age even. In 2001, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone hit the big screen & that was my first exposure to it. I found it mildly entertaining & was pretty impressed with the acting ability of the kids involved. When the second movie came out, I again found it mildly entertaining. The ending seemed pretty cheesy to me. Then the third movie came out & I think I finally got a taste of what the hubbub was over. The plot was more interesting and the characters finally had some decent growth. It was at that point I decided I wanted to read the books. My brother gave us the complete set (or up through book 5 at that point anyway) for Christmas and my wife & I started reading them aloud to each other. Then I really got it. And like most books, they were better than the movie. Most notably as the movies progressed and the books progressed, they did not do justice to my favorite character in the series - Neville Longbottom.

Yes, he gets 10 or 50 points or something for Gryffindor in the first movie, but ultimately, he is underserved in the movies. Neville never asks for attention. He does his best & is a fairly unassuming guy. It's not until the 4th book that you find out why he's being raised by his gran. And by the 4th movie, they had established him as a bit of a bumbling idiot.

He wasn't an idiot. He was an introvert. And with his history, you can certainly understand why. His tragic origin story is every bit as engaging as Harry's, and in some ways even more so. Neville is full of integrity & loyalty and an absolute commitment to what is right. You never have him trying out the unforgivable curses even when face to face with the torturer of his parents. Neville Cares. They show him a bit more promising in the final movies, but ultimately, he's still not the titular character. But without Neville, Voldemort would have won.

And the third character I love is also from the Harry Potter series - Luna Lovegood. And frankly, I love her for the same reasons I love Neville. I also love that even though she's a bit of an outsider socially, she's very happy with who she is. She's not afraid to be herself & when people take advantage of her nature, she still just rolls with it & and has faith that things will work out for the best.

So I was excited when Jenelle Schmidt gave me her "ideal cast" list for the 4th book of The Minstrel's Song - She had a character that she pictured as Neville & one that she pictured as Luna. I'm about 2/3rds through recording it. :) Awesome series. I should probably do a post about it too with as much as I love it & my kids are loving it.

Who are your favorite characters from YA or Kids books & why?

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