|The Mad Tea Party by Sir John Tenniel|
By Lewis Carroll
How can I express in words what this book has meant to me my whole life? It seems that a blog of reviews could only begin with one of my all-time favorite novels, the one that I have read more times than other's, the one whose lead protagonist I have considered "my best book friend" (more on that later).
My journey with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass began when I was seven years old. I had seen many of the film versions such as the Disney version and a miniseries from 1985, but I had never read the whole book before. I finally ordered it in a book order form and felt myself transported to the world of madness, word plays, and goofy characters that in a strange way made sense to me. At first, I read it as an ultimate escape from the worries and problems of any normal school girl. I would read and imagine myself falling down the rabbit hole as it took me to this strange world and I could be alongside Alice having tea with the Mad Hatter, listening to the Cheshire Cat's instructions, playing chess with the Red and White Queen and having so many adventures.
As I grew older, I began to appreciate the book for its satire of Victorian conventions. I recognized the parody of Queen Victoria that could be found in the temperamental Queen of Hearts and the Duchess who was so fond of finding morals in things. I recognized the poems "You Are Old Father William" and "How Doth the Little Crocodile" make fun of poems that were meant to instill proper behavior. I also saw the lunacy behind rules such as "sentence first, verdict afterwards" and could see how they made no more sense than the real rules at the time.
Most of all, I recognize and pay tribute to the character of Alice. I have identified with her struggle going through Wonderland and Looking Glass World. She was a young lady who wasn't afraid to challenge rules that made no sense, argue with characters when they were rude to her, but she still continued to play the game. In many decisions, I feel that I have fallen down the rabbit hole or am playing an endless game of chess against opponents. I keep playing, but I hope that I can stop and think and be myself so that I don't lose sight of who I am through all the changes as Alice often does. I own a book called, "You've Got to Read This Book" in which people discuss the books that changed their lives. I know beyond a doubt that Alice has changed mine. That's why I call these books "my best book friends."
Links For Further Discussion and Activity Suggestions
Satire Through the Ages - The Alice books are wonderful examples of satire. I created this page to comment on satires through history. What conventions do they mock? How do they ridicule them? What are some other examples, either through books, music, movies, etc. What was their effectiveness in ridiculing society and what changes were made or could have been made because of them?
Logicville Puzzles and Brainteasers- Besides satire, The Alice books are known for their twisted brands of logic and word play. Try your luck on some of these puzzles and see how far your brain could be stretched. What other puzzles can you do? What are some of your favorite puzzles and games that you use to get the brain going?
Teaching Alice -This is my personal website used to describe different activities related to Alice in Wonderland? What other books could be presented this way? What electronic tools could be used to convey interest in the classics and present them in a modern 21st century fashion?
Questions for further discussion:
1.This review mentioned the concept of "best book friends." Who are some of yours? How did they change your outlook on life? How have you used those lessons or characters throughout your life? What is it about them that sticks with you even now?
2. Lewis Carroll's novels are known for their satire of Victorian mores and values. What are some of the specific elements that he mocks? Think about modern satire, such as The Onion or the Daily Show. What aspects of modern society do they mock? Do you think that their stance isn't too far different from Carroll's? Why or why not? How is satire different then that in it is now?