So, I was recently ruminating about media tie-in books for kids in a review of Too Many Cooks, parsing what exactly I like from books whose nag-factor usually kills any joy I might take in their pages. I'm pretty sure that The Return to Narnia: The Rescue of Prince Caspian is even lower than a media tie-in book. This wasn't commissioned by whatever studio made the recent movies, but by some copyright holder of the Narnia books seeking to cash into the movies without getting sued.
The art seems occasionally to make Peter, Edmund, Lucy and Susan look like the actors in the movies, but not often enough for decisiveness. The plot from Prince Caspian is truncated to the point of silliness - I say, having read these so long ago not to remember barely anything - and Aslan's inscrutability is irritating. Mostly I just read this kind of book with the part of my brain that won't remember anything, mouthing through words that don't register on my conscious mind. Parenting rules.
But this time, the kids found this book so clumsy and stupid they started mocking it mid-book, which made my heart swell with joy. I'm raising kids who understand the value of snark! The thing that got them off on a tangent of mockery was when, after a bunch of shenanigans and military campaigning, with all this dire consequence and Old Narnia on the march, the writer notes: "Then they had breakfast together." My son burst into laughter. "Here," he said, holding out his hands. "I made you French toast."
"No, no," my daughter retorted, "It was eggs on toast, and they melted butter on the whole thing."
"Maybe it was Cheerios."
This went on this way the whole time I tried to finish the book - which ends super lamely, I might add - riffing off of breakfast foods and offering each other orange juice and maple syrup and the like. It's possible I'm not doing a very good job of explaining why this was funny. It was just this odd, prosaic detail in the middle of all this mythos that fell incongruous and silly, in addition to all the half-assedness of the book to begin with.
So, I don't have a lot of respect for books like this, a sub-basement of a sub-basement, but at least we got a couple of laughs out of it tonight. Sometimes reading some crap gives you appreciation for the good stuff.