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Book review: <i>Alice In Wonderland</i> by Lewis Carroll

I very much doubt that when Lewis Carroll (aka the reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) rowed down the Thames with the Liddle girls in 1865 and happened to make up a story about Alice to keep them occupied he could possibly have imagined the profound impact his story would still be having on the world, over one hundred years later. Still very much in print, and still being adapted for screen, Alice In Wonderland really has staying power.

The story

Alice is sitting on the riverbank with her elder sister, and is suffering from boredom, when a rabbit runs past her, muttering “I’m late, I’m late!”. When Alice sees that the rabbit has a pocket watch AND a pocket to keep it in, she decides that the rabbit looks like an interesting alternative to being bored on the riverbank, so she follows him down the rabbit hole. This is the beginning of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and leads on to events that most of us are particularly familiar with... the shrinking and the growing and the “shutting up like a telescope”, the pool of Alice’s tears, her infamous interlude with a hookah smoking caterpillar, the Dutchess and the pig, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter’s tea party, a game of croquet, the mock turtle, Alice’s trial, and of course the “it was all a dream” ending. And the entire story is interspersed with endearing pieces of nonsense verse, illogic, and vibrantly described fantasy realms.

The style

I think the most commendable aspect of the styling in this novel is Lewis Carroll’s masterful sense of pacing and timing; the slow scenes don’t drag and the quick scenes don’t lose the reader. It is beautifully timed for children and there isn’t a dull moment. The entire Wonderland is an amazing creation and is described perfectly. Carroll evokes all the desired responses and feelings in each part and the reading experience feels like the readers themselves are being lulled along to Wonderland with Alice. To give an example, I had Alice In Wonderland on cassette tape from a very young age, and when I saw the animated movie later as a child I was bitterly disappointed because it didn’t do the story I knew justice at all!

There is much speculation as to the author himself, and unsubstantiated allegations of paedophilia, drug use, and various other issues. This really just seems to have added to the popularity of the story (particulary alternative drug readings) but I certainly wouldn’t suggest reading Alice In Wonderland for any reason other than a glorious and imaginative creation and an excellent way for any person to pass a couple of hours.

Who is this book for?

If you have or know of a child who has not been exposed to this book, then buy it for them! It is an excellent reading aloud experience for everyone, and it sure beats the hell out of trying to read books of the “Jimmy can run. Run, Jimmy, run!” variety. Also, if you have reached adulthood and haven’t read it, but you still have a spark of imagination about you, give it a go. It doesn’t take very much time, and at the risk of sounding cliched it really is enchanting. And has the bonus of being easy to read.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Hmmm, so many choices! Winnie The Pooh, by A. A. Milne, Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie, The Wind In The Willows, by Kenneth Graham... and of course, there is Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol, the sequel to Alice In Wonderland. It is quite a bit darker than Alice In Wonderland, but enjoyable none the less.

In short

Title: Alice In Wonderland/Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
Author: Lewis Carroll
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
ISBN: 0439291496
Year published: 2002
Pages: 160
Genre(s): Children's literature, Classic Literature
Review Type: 


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