"The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise." - author Jackie French

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Would you be surprised to see a white rabbit take a watch out of his waistcoat pocket? It certainly seems a remarkable sight to Alice and, full of curiosity, she follows him down a rabbit-hole into a very strange world.

I am very grateful that Alice tumbled down into that rabbit-hole, rather than shaking her head, rubbing her eyes and convincing herself that she was just dreaming. If she had, then generations of readers would have missed out on the amazing story of her adventures in Wonderland and that would be a very sad thing indeed.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of those amazing classic children’s novels that has left its imprint on our literary consciousness. The white rabbit, Cheshire cat, Mad Hatter’s tea party and the volatile Queen of Hearts are characters and images so imprinted onto our literary DNA that they are even recognised by many who haven’t ever opened the pages of Lewis Carroll’s classic novel themselves.

I remember reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as a child and loving the silliness of the story. The strange disappearing cat with his taunting air and toothy smile and the zany chaos of the Mad Hatter and March Hare’s tea party and were two of many scenes that kept me turning pages.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass contain two of my favourite childhood poems, You are old, Father William and The Walrus and the Carpenter and the opening lines of the nonsense poem Jabberwocky still make me smile.

I re-read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass as an adult and was astounded to discover a depth to the imagery in the story that had completely passed me by as a child. I love that it can be read by both children and adults without patronising one or boring the other. As with many classics, I think that this is part of what makes these stories ideal for advanced younger readers who can be both entertained by the children’s story and catch glimpses of the deeper themes and more complex images and concepts.

I have been very excited to see the recent revival of interest in classic children’s novels that have been republished for modern readers. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the titles included in the Vintage Classics range released by Random House in recent months and I have been pleased to see my own children happily reading novels that I enjoyed so much as a child. The Vintage Children’s Classics edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland includes the text of Alice and Through the Looking Glass as well as some in background information on the story and a quick quiz.

Have you shared your favourite childhood novel with your kids?

Title: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Vintage Children's Classics)
Author: Lewis Carroll
Illustrator: John Tenniel
Publisher: Vintage, $9.95 RRP
Publication Date:  1 August 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780099572923
For ages: 7+ years
Type: Junior Fiction

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