I have never much cared for Alice in Wonderland. Before today, I had never read the book, only seen parts of the Disney movie. But since Alice features in the book I am currently writing, I had to take the plunge. And I found that I still don’t care for Alice.
Before the Victorian era, stories for children were rather rare, and the ones that were published were, for the greater part, instructional and/or religious. But the mid-1800’s brought about a rise in imaginative stories, books written simply for children to enjoy. It was a novel concept. Many still had a moral point to them, but they were fun.
Alice was written during this time period, and it is very much a celebration of children and childhood. For those who may not know the story, young Alice falls down a rabbit hole where she meets a variety of talking animals, meets the King and Queen of hearts (as in playing cards), and changes size dramatically—several times. It’s silly and nonsensical, without a distinct plot (which is what I dislike about it), but for young children, it really is a wonderland where fantastical things can happen. And adults (including me) can laugh at the logic (or lack of it) and the many humorous word plays Carroll makes. I also particularly enjoyed the variety of clever nursery rhymes Carroll created. (I looked them up, many are parodies of actual rhymes from the era, some of which I recognized.)
Over the last century and a half, Alice has proven immensely popular. Only a year or two ago a new Alice movie came out! But as always, I like to encourage kids to read the original text that prompted all the adaptations, to see where it all began. It’s a very easy listening level, for the most part. The only difficulties are the occasional old-fashioned phrases. (Independent reading level may be about fourth to fifth grade.) The imagination, which is the book’s key strength, is still as relevant today as it was in 1865. In that regard, kids have not changed. If you have one who likes the Alice movies, try the novel.