I have been in search for the best edition of these books for ages, and now I’ve found them! The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector’s Edition from Harper Trophy are paperback (c’est dommage!), but even so, the bindings are stitched, which will make the books last longer than some hardcovers out there. I love the pictures—they’re the same Pauline Baynes illustrations I remember from childhood. But to add pleasure to perfection—they’re full color.
The sound recording from Harper Children’s Audio is unabridged and features the voice talents of Kenneth Branagh, Lynn Redgrave, Jeremy Northam, and others (you can listen to all of The Silver Chair read by Mr. Knightley–sigh).
My son, who found the book series a bit daunting in second grade, popped in the CDs and read along. He had them finished in about a week, and probably enjoyed them more being lulled into the world of Narnia by the sound of British voices.
I always like to read them in the order they were written. Some people (like the publishers) say that Lewis intended them to be read starting with the Magician’s Nephew, but I think it’s more exciting to start with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. (Incidentally, the producers of the movies seem to think so, too.)
If anyone’s interested, here’s the order they were written:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Horse and His Boy
The Magician’s Nephew
The Last Battle