[Originally published in Ready Readers: Middle School Literature, Vol. 1]
A classic of juvenile literature from the author that inspired CS Lewis, At the Back of the North Wind is a fairy tale of the best kind. Here myth and mystery conspire to deepen our understanding of reality, to animate it again with imagination. Though it remains as approachable and engaging as the purest fairy tale, this story is rich with insight into the most enduring human questions. MacDonald leads the reader effortlessly into contemplation of the nature of God, the problem of evil, and the reality of the spiritual world. MacDonald’s generous use of a host of literary devices will bountifully reward the Lit teacher looking for object lessons and examples. We have read this story with students as young as ten years old, though its most stirring themes (Childlike Faith, The Goodness of Providence) are probably best handled by students in junior high or above. Perfectly appropriate for high school or adult reading groups as well.