The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) - C.S. Lewis, Pauline Baynes "Magic...I bet this whole room is just stiff with enchantments"

Polly and Diggory are two children who live next door to each other in a line of row homes in London. When Polly discovers a tunnel of sorts connecting all the homes in their row, the two decide to go on an adventure, but when they stumble instead into Diggory's Uncle Andrew's study, the children end up on a completely different adventure...to other worlds.

I Liked:
The Magician's Nephew is my most favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. I pretty much love everything about it...the characters, the adventures, the humor, the setting, everything. But since a review that says "I love everything" isn't very interesting or helpful, let me break it down a little more.
As I mentioned in an earlier review, I have a formula for novel that will likely end up on my "OMG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK IN THE UNIVERSE READ IT YESTERDAY!!!":
1. A strong-willed, independent girl
2. A journey or adventure or chase away from "bad guys"
3. A big "life or death" battle
4. A very laid-back romance with a realistic boy (Edward Cullen need not apply)
Again, The Magician's Nephew fulfills all these criteria.
1. Polly is not a throw-away girl. She plays an active part in the adventures and is critical to the story. Her initial disappearance forces Diggory to go after her. Plus, while she is sometimes silly and fearful, she is also practical (she isn't charmed by Jardis and wants to leave the bell and hammer alone) and faithful to her friend (she doesn't leave to go home when she and Diggory are on an adventure to retrieve a fruit).
2. Probably my favorite part is the first time Diggory and Polly go to the Woods between the Worlds. I love how these pools of water are portals to multiple worlds, and I can't stop thinking about them and the people and adventures that are in there. I almost wish that Diggory and Polly had seen more of these worlds, because this concept was so interesting to me.
3. There is no big battle, but there is a hint of one to come in the future. But if you change this criteria to "good conclusion", then this definitely applies. All the loose ends are tied up neatly or left for the rest of the books in the series. I love how you learn where the wardrobe came from, how the lamppost is in Narnia, and more.
4. Again, no romance, but that is a good thing in this era where every book has to have a freakin' Romantic Triangle. Plus, you could interpret that Diggory and Polly might have been romantic interests at one point. They do remain friends throughout their lives, so it wouldn't be a huge stretch.
And because my criteria can't contain all the goodness:
5. Humor. Me love some good humor and this book is bursting with it. The banter between the children is amazing; I can't help but laugh at what the animals to do poor Uncle Andrew. And the narrator keeps things so nicely light-hearted and funny, I found myself laughing out loud at work!
6. Diggory is the perfect balance of a curious boy, sweet at heart, yet still mischievous and sometimes mean. I particularly liked his desire to heal his mother, while struggling with obeying Aslan. His choice isn't easy and might mean his mother may always be sick.
7. Good moral lessons. It's not a prerequisite, but I do like books that can tell us not to lie, cheat, steal, be arrogant, and more without clubbing us over the head with it. Even the scene where Aslan and Diggory talk about the fate of our world isn't too bad.
8. Nostalgia. I think this was the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia that my dad read to me when I was younger, so this one particularly holds a dear place in my heart. Plus, I still laugh when I think of "Dem fine woman" and my dad laughing about the line.

I Didn't Like:
Uncle Andrew, particularly in the beginning, almost comes off a little creepy, in a pedophile way. The way he locks the kids in his study and compliments Polly, I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable, even knowing that his actions were far more "benign" (if you can call sending children to a different, unexplored world "benign") than what the scene made me think.
As I said above, I wish Diggory and Polly had had the chance to explore more of the pools.
Some of Aslan's lines made me wince because of their corniness.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
"Dem" in place of da** and at least one instance of "@ss" (which, as this is in British English, is likely referring to the animal).
Uncle Andrew imagines feelings for Jardis. Jardis has bare arms. Some of Uncle Andrew's actions could be construed as creepy.
Jardis reveals to the children that she killed her entire world.

Overall:
Every time I read The Magician's Nephew, I relearn why I love this book so much. Adventure. Good characters. Light-hearted fun. Magic and fantastical worlds. If any of those things appeal to you, I encourage you to get lost in the world of The Magician's Nephew.