This, I think, was the best Narnia book, as its motivations were the truest and purest and it offered the explanations for the beginnings of so much in the future books with which we are already so familiar. Funny how Lewis turns the tables on this one -- the pursuit of an apple for a *good* reason by a man, for a woman.
How I got through my childhood and beyond without reading this series, I don't quite know, but it is truly regrettable that I did. The recent movies brought the series to my attention. This is the first--the beginning of Narnia. It is certainly not the most well-known of the seven books but it tells much that makes the later stories more understandable and enjoyable. From here, you believe in Narnia as a true place with a true history (at least as long as you are turning pages).
Yes, the writing is quaint and more reminiscent of The Hobbit than the Lord of the Rings, simply because it is definitely written for a young audience in an era that was much simpler. However, do not think the story to be trite or dated--it is not. There is much the same sense of morality and parable present here as in the watered-down Grimm's or the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. Christian parallels do exist, but not in such a way that non-believers are repulsed. That, perhaps, is this tale's greatest contribution to the world--that a non-Christian can be exposed to so much of God's love in such an innocent fashion. No judgement or condemnation is felt--the characters are all given choices and consequences.
This is yet another series that is well worth re-reading, not only for children but adults as well.
Book 1 of 7; Digory and Polly are friends who are sent into other worlds through tricker. Magic rings that Digory's Uncle Andrew made. The two friends find themselves in an adventure of a life time. Bringing an evil witch back from one world and watching the creation of another.
I recommend that you read this great little book before "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," though many people (and commercial packaging) often begin with LWW. In the full set of 7 books in the Chronicles set, this is the one that tells how Narnia began, and where the great magic came from. A great story: Collect and read all seven!