Written in 1865, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland started a new era of children’s books and is the epitome of a children’s classic. I’d only ever watched the animated Disney film, so when I saw that it was free to listen to on Librivox, I downloaded it and listened whilst waking to and from town at the weekends.
Despite not having seen the film recently, I seemed to know a fair bit of the dialogue in the book including the famous lines: ‘oh my ears and whiskers’ said by the white rabbit; ‘who are you?’ by the caterpillar and of course ‘off with his head!!’ screamed by the Queen of Hearts. I also recognised words in the story from my old primary school production of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ that I was part of when I was 8! Words from all of the songs came flooding back! It’s strange what you can remember, even things from 18 years ago…
Anyway, I did really enjoy it and it seems that the film, from what I can recall, appears to follow the book very closely. I think I need to watch it again some time soon and some of the newer versions too. The mad characters who popped up here there and everywhere were easy to remember because I already knew them so well – a bonus when reading the book of a film you have seen.
The presentation of the ‘mouse’s tale’ was really interesting to consider in light of common trends in some modern children’s books. It twists and turns down the page, as if it were a tail – if you like puns, this book is full of them! Many modern authors change the layout of their books, sometimes putting fewer words on a page, including doodles as illustrations, writing horizontally and so on. I wonder how many of these authors were inspired by Carroll?
This book is frankly, absolutely bonkers. However, if like me you like to delve a little deeper into messages and meanings of books, then this is a great one to dissect! I think that the underlying theme in this book is all about Alice trying to understand who she is and consider what it means to ‘grow up’. She gets bigger and smaller after eating/drinking stuff and no size is a particularly great experience for her! The caterpillar, a creature itself a thing which will make a major change into a butterfly, questions who she is and she doesn’t really know because her life has got all a bit confusing, something many teenagers I am sure could identify with.
The ending of the story, which I obviously won’t spoil, could be argued to be the invention of a now very cliche ending. Most teachers would give a little groan of despair if you used it and I don’t think that we have Carroll to blame, but the people who have over ‘mag-pied’ it!
All in all, I would recommend that you read/listen to this book not only because it is a classic, but it’s quite a good one for you to start thinking about reading between the lines of the story. Don’t forget that the app Librivox is free and I can almost guarantee that there is a copy in your school or local library.