Way Back Wednesday Essential Classic: Alice in Wonderland
“All in the Golden Afternoon” with Alice
Did you know that this is the 150th Anniversary of the utterly “contrariwise” childhood nonsense world that one can discover in “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland?
And so, here is the perfect opportunity to introduce the youngest of readers to Alice and her utterly unbelievable list of endearing characters inhabiting Wonderland.
Please fall “down the rabbit hole” with Alice, the dreamer in Wonderland, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Red Queen, March Hare, Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar, and, of course, those chatty, catty talking flowers in the garden.
Walt Disney gave Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, pen named Lewis Carroll, a perfect homage in that amazingly anthropomorphic song, sung by the garden flowers in Walt’s animated version of “Alice in Wonderland.”
Do please enjoy their song at the bottom of my blog!
And did you know that Lewis Carroll began his story of Alice with a poem in stanzas, called “All in the Golden Afternoon” that preceded the opening of Alice’s story? Well, he did; in 1865, to be exact. That would make it 150 years ago!
On a boating trip to Oxford, Alice Liddell asked for a story. And Lewis Carroll obliged, writing in his preface poem, an oblique reference to the three Liddell sisters named Edith, Lorina, and, of course, Alice.
For it was for Alice, in particular, for whom he wrote his classic, zany tale of a world where everything makes little sense.
So, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the writing of “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland”, you may just want to let your young ones have a taste of Alice’s world, with one, or all three young reader versions that I sampled of her story.
Plus, for the first time in three decades, the original manuscript of Lewis Carroll’s book is available for viewing in New York’s Morgan Library at 225 Madison Avenue until October 12, 2015. Why not take the young ones for a fall excursion to see it and the accompanying never before seen drawings, letters and objects – all on loan from the British Library?
There is a link at the bottom for more information.
A Little Golden Book: Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland
Disney’s Golden Book version is probably well known to most Baby Boomer parents and grandparents as it’s based on the Disney movie, from the Carroll classic. The movie debuted in 1951 and may still be seen from time to time on the Disney Channel and is a great purchase on DVD. There is an “Un-Anniversary”2 disc edition that is out now.
Those amazingly talented Disney animators made Alice an indelible image for children for a generation or more. The Golden Book version is a memory bank of pictures from your childhood, ready to share with any young reader. I spent time poring over it myself, and have to say it is a sweet treat that made me want to revisit the Disney movie version!
In speaking recently to a Millennial mom, she mentioned that with all the new animation that has come out in the past few years, those Disney’s classics are sometimes overlooked.
What a shame that would be because their clever nuanced take on the nonsensical world of Alice is a movie not to be missed; followed closely or preceded by this book.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Alison Jay
Ms. Jay has provided young readers with a sturdy board book that will hold up well to lots of poring over and pointing out of pictures. Her book put me in mind of my early primer reader that could make a single word or phrase evoke the accompanying picture to a tee.
Ms. Jay, in her use of words like “run”, juxtaposes it against a picture of Alice chasing the White Rabbit, while “shrink” has a picture of the diminutive Alice after she has drunk from the bottle marked “Drink Me.”
It’s simple and subtle, yet leaves room for the reader and the listener to fill in as much as they want. I love the cover of a burgeoning Alice bumping up against the ceiling as she “grows.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Robert Sabuda
Robert Sabuda’s pop up adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is just plain, well, “wonderful.”
From the opening of its first page, where a huge pop up leafy tree emerges, under which sits a tiny Alice and her sister, there are surprises.
At the bottom of the page, an accordion like folded down piece of paper, closed with a “Open Me”slide across piece, beckons.
And, when opened, it grows to a tall column or hole, through which a child may peer down, and see a kaleidoscope feature of Alice falling “down the rabbit hole.”Amazing!
With each successive page, young readers will revel in Alice’s journey through Wonderland and its nonsensical inhabitants.
For instance, at the Mad Hatter’s and March Hare’s Tea Party, look to the left and there is a folded out piece of paper neatly tucked into a tidy pocket-like feature with corners. Open it, and the reader can discover the text from “Alice in Wonderland”that describes the scene in the pop up picture. It’s never too early for young readers to discover the young girl that tires of things as they are, and wishes for a place where everything is as it isn’t!
Growing up is never easy. And for kids today, it seems as full of unanticipated things as Wonderland. And perhaps that was the whole point of Carroll’s classic. To appreciate what you have, you have to grow into yourself and see your life from a different perspective. It’s a bit of a “no place like home” philosophy.
May I conclude with a pitch for the picture book? They easily and joyfully allow children a gradual introduction to the thrill of reading that is sort of akin to training wheels on a bicycle. They lead to the chapter book and YA and everything beyond. Great picture books draw young readers in with wonderful art and a narrative that fits their age. It eases them into reading while entertaining and enlightening – all at the same time.
And here, although the reality of growing up may not be easy peasy, the adventure of it all can sit lighter on one’s shoulders with a visit to Wonderland.
Please let these three gems introduce your young reader to their first steps to a place where a Cheshire Cat, Dodo, March Hare, White Rabbit, Red Queen, Caterpillar and an array of talking flowers, all allow young readers the enjoyment of a “Golden Afternoon”, as they grow up!
Young readers may find themselves mimicking the ear to ear smile of the Carroll’s Cheshire Cat as he intones, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
But, dear reader, you know the path that leads straight to the doors of this classic tale in picture book form.
Please beat a path there sometime soon – with a young reader in tow!