Cranky cousin converts to courageous champion

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Rated PG

Your picky eater’s palate seems to be shrinking. Beans and broccoli, rice and noodles, chicken and fish — they all get a thumbs down. And heaven forbid any of his food should touch another food on his plate! Everyone says he’ll grow out of it, but your dinner table is quickly turning into a battleground.

So, you take Mr. Picky with you to the next volunteer day at the local soup kitchen. He solemnly watches the homeless devour their meals, grateful for every morsel. On the way home, you explain that, for some, today’s lunch will be the only food they get, maybe for days.

At dinner, your son picks up a fork and tentatively nibbles a carrot. With a sheepish smile, he says he’s now looking at dinner in a whole new light. His tastes may not change overnight, but with a different attitude, he may just make some positive changes.

A change in perspective is just what your son needed. It’s also key for one of the main characters in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” available this month on DVD. Check it out with your family and then talk about its themes with our Talk Together ideas. Later, you can discover what’s “Behind the Mask” with our Play Together activity.

In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Lucy and Edmund are longing for a return trip to Narnia. They are very unhappy living with their disagreeable cousin, Eustace Scrubb, during the war. One afternoon, the three of them get swept away into the magical land of Narnia where King Caspian is sailing the Dawn Treader on a quest to save Narnia. Lucy and Edmund quickly offer their help on the mission. Eustace, on the other hand, is very vocal about his disapproval of the whole business.

The ship’s crew encounters many hostile enemies, but they work together to defeat them. Everyone, that is, except Eustace, who tries to sabotage their efforts for his own gain. Then, Eustace steals some gold and jewels and finds himself transformed into a dragon. No one can help him, so he tags along with the ship as it continues its voyage.

When the crew faces the ominous green mist on the Dark Island, a giant sea serpent attacks the ship. All seems lost until Eustace flies in and saves the day. Aslan the lion rewards his efforts by turning him back into a boy. Eustace learns that changing your perspective can alter your whole attitude!

Talk together

Why is Eustace unhappy with Lucy and Edmund living in his house? How does he express his anger? How does his anger affect Edmund?

Eustace is surprised to learn that Narnia is a real place after all. How does he react to the crew of the Dawn Treader? What do they think of Eustace? Why does Reepicheep befriend Eustace?

Eustace masks his fear with anger — why? Think of a time when you were afraid, maybe from a thunderstorm or a nightmare. How did you feel? How did your feelings change when the storm stopped or you woke up? What was different?

Eustace gets a different point of view when he becomes a dragon. How does he feel about Lucy and Edmund and the ship’s crew? How does Reepicheep treat him?

Play together: Behind the mask

You will need:

• Foam sheets

• Markers

• Rubber bands

• Scissors

Cut a foam strip wide enough to fit from temple to temple over your eyes, and cut out eyeholes. Use markers to decorate the mask as an emotion, creating an angry or happy mask, etc.

Cut apart a rubber band. Snip a small hole or slit on both ends of the mask and thread the rubber band through them; knot the rubber band. Wear your mask, and see if your friends and family can guess what emotions are really hiding behind that funny façade!

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