January 11, 2016
Classic of the Month
Welcome to classic of the month. This will be a once a month talk about a classic I like. It's going to run for a year to start, after that we'll see. I'll start with a quick overview of the book, then tell what I like about it. I may also mention my favorite movie versions and books based off of it that I like, depending. So- on to Wonderland!
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
This is the first book in Lewis Carroll's wonderful adventures of a girl called Alice. In the book, she is out one day with her sister, listening to a boring history lesson, when she sees a white rabbit go by. Since he is wearing a waistcoat and pocket watch, she obviously follows him. She falls down a rabbit hole and her adventures begin. Throughout the book she encounters creatures of all types, shrinks and grows multiple times, and barely escapes having her head chopped off. In the end, she discovers it was just a dream, although anything is possible with one's imagination.
Through the Looking Glass
This is the second book about Alice. As the title suggests, she reaches Wonderland this time through a looking glass above the mantle. She finds herself in a world where many things are backwards. The books as an example. That is where she reads the poem, the Jabberwocky. You can't go straight to places and running only keeps you in one spot. Only this time, the land is a giant chess board. Alice wants to be a queen so she travels across the board, meeting the red and white queens and kings along the way. At the end she does manage to become a queen but finds it's not as much fun as she thought. Alice wakes to find it was all a dream again.
What I Like About Them
These books have fascinated me ever since I read them the first time. The thought that a strange and wonderful world could be just down a rabbit hole or through a mirror is fun. Carroll's world is a fanciful one. If you can imagine it, it's probably there. His word play is also hilarious. Bread and butterfly. Rocking horse fly. Nobody as a person. How much better can it get?
Alice is also an excellent protagonist. She is not a normal little girl, content to sit and listen to her lessons. She'd prefer to imagine that she's a hyena or make up a world of her own. Her commentary is what gives the book some of its charm.
Carroll wrote these books in a tone that people don't use any more. It has that old fashioned charm rarely achieved by writers in the 21st century. I love that style and most books written in it. He also filled them with poems, many of which made fun of the moralistic poems children learned back then. At the time he wrote them- the 1860's- this type of literature for children was unheard of. Books for children always had morals or a lesson to be learned. And here was little girl learning no lessons, simply enjoying herself in a strange place. Children loved them.
Books and Movies
I can't finish without mentioning these, as there are several good ones. The old Disney one, made in 1951, is always a classic. With its great voice cast and fun songs, it is a great one to first introduce kids to. For fans of Wonderland and Johnny Depp, try the new version, also by Disney. With another excellent cast, a great story line, and wonderful computer generated world, it is a fun one for fans of the book. In this one, a grown up Alice returns to the world she thought was a dream. She must slay the Jabberwocky and learns that she can do anything. The sequel to it, Through the Looking Glass, comes out this year. I'm excited for it.
For books, one I enjoyed was The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. It takes the characters you know and love and expands on them and on Wonderland. There's Alyss, the princess who got trapped in the human world for a long time, where she told her story to Charles Dodgeson. He hurt her feelings by twisting it all up. We have Hatter Madigan, a warrior; Redd Heart, the villain; Bibwit Harte, a tutor; and the Cat, an assassin. If you like a retelling, this is a good choice.
I hope you liked my thoughts on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. If you are also a lover of the books or movies, comment and tell me what you like about them.