Saturday, May 13, 2006

Lewis Carroll's Classic tales - Reviews

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (AAIW) and Through the Looking Glass (TTLG) are each children’s stories focusing on a little girl named Alice and the wonderful things she dreams. Each contains wonderful and fanciful characters, plenty of riddles and puns and play on words, and several fun and fascinating bits of poetry.

AAIW follows Alice down the ever-famous rabbit hole in pursuit of a white rabbit. She wanders through Wonderland at various heights by eating and drinking things and meets such colorful characters as the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Door Mouse at a crazy perpetual tea party. The Mad Hatter explains that it is always tea time because he upset Time and now Time will not do what the Mad Hatter asks. She encounters a smoking caterpillar, a pepper-happy chef, a duchess with a pig for a baby, a Mock Turtle who used to be a real turtle, and the infamous Queen of Hearts. After the Queen of Heart’s challenging croquet game using flamingos and hedgehogs, Alice is a witness to a trial of the theft of the Queen’s hearts. My favorite encounter has to be the Cheshire Cat who is witty and insightful and found new respect from me as he sends confusion among the Queen and King of Hearts as they argue whether a head without a body can be beheaded.

TTLG follows Alice as she dreams herself through the looking-glass hanging over the fireplace in her home where everything appears backwards. This dream bears a bit more structure than the first as, after she chats with the flowers in the garden, Alice enters a living chessboard. She desires to be a queen and so enters the game as a white pawn with the goal of reaching the 8th square to be crowned a queen. As she makes her moves across the board, she encounters Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the red and white kings, queens, and knights, Humpty Dumpty, and a lion and a unicorn that fight over the white king’s crown.

Both stories are well-written with cleverness and wit that entertains adults as well as children. The characters so unique they have become known for generations. The poetry, even if occasionally requiring a dictionary, is fantastically fun, especially the mouse’s tale. Anyone and everyone should read these classics. They are wonderful fun for adults and children alike and look forward to being able to read them to Cecilia.

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