A few tidbits from my current reading:
From Live Like A Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis's Chronicles, an excellent, thought-provoking companion to my reading of the Chronicles of Narnia with the girls.
On the function of stories in education: "The Narnian stories display through imaginative fiction and fairy tale the way that the world really is. Here is courage and bravery in its shining glory … Here is the face of Evil. Here also is the face of God. A child (or adult) who lives in such stories will have developed the patterns of thought and affection that will be well-prepared to embrace the True, the Good and the Beautiful (that is, to embrace Jesus Christ) when he faintly encounters them (Him!)."
On the role of magic in Narnia and other children's literature: " … its magic is mirrored in our own world. Conflicts of power and enchantments are real, and they matter. But beneath the power encounters and magical warfare is Deep magic and Deeper, the inflexible solidity of the Moral Law and the breathtaking beauty of Sacrificial Love." (Side note: Not to stir up any hornet's nests, but this statement also explains the main reason I personally was won over to the Harry Potter series. I don't think you can make it to the end of the seventh book and not see this as probably the central theme of the whole series. Rowling stands on the strongest shoulders.)
From The Wind in the Willows:
"As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the ploughed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingering, the cultivated garden -plot. For others the asperities, the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last a lifetime."
Caroline's comment on that passage: "Mole knows what he likes, and he likes what he knows."
Eliza's comment on that passage: "He's just like a Hobbit!"
It's been a few years since we last visited Mole and Rat and the rest, and I'd forgotten until now just what a joy it is to revel in Kenneth Grahame's masterly use of the English language. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.
(And could I resist the beautifully illustrated and jacketed edition on display at our local Heffers bookstore? What a silly question. :-))