I’m not so sure I can describe what this book is about as well as I can describe what it is like. Picture the tipsy-turvy world of Alice in Wonderland where practical rules do not apply, throw in a quest to save the world and some Christian allegory a la The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and/or The Dawn Treader, add elves and goblins, heroes and heroines and you might get at least part of what this book is about.
The Many-Coloured Realm is a book that would have made me feel really smart as a child, like reading Alice in Wonderland or Madeleine L’Engle’s books. Smart because as a kid you are just along for the ride wanting to see where the story goes and how it’s going to get there. I would have liked that the normal rules don’t apply and that anything can happen. Like jumping into a chalk-picture drawing in Mary Poppins. As an adult, I felt a little lost and confused wishing the story was a bit more rooted. I think that says more about me than the book though. I plan to let my daughter read it and see what she thinks. Maybe I’ll post a review from her after she’s read it.
Theology: Allegory on the Pharisees, Gentiles, and the Messiah
This is a story where everything isn’t as it seems. There’s a lot of allegory in here. I spotted some Pharisees (can’t tell you who because I don’t want to ruin it for you) and a lot of Gentiles (the ones that recognized the Messiah for who He is). Satan is surely Zzael (easy to spot). And God as the Creator is mighty and wonderful. Nothing overtly Christian unless you already know the story.
Great book for kids who like imaginative worlds.
Social issues: Bullying, bigotry
There are some bullies in the book—both on the individual level and on the racial level (bigotry). There is an unfortunate boy who no one likes (at first) because he smells so foul. A predominant theme in the book is that you can’t judge someone by the way they look, i.e. actions speak louder than words.
My favorite part of the book? The flying penguin, Artemys.