Alice’s surreal adventures begin when she follows a frantically late White Rabbit down a hole into the magical world of Wonderland. As she tries to find her way home, she meets a variety of weird and wonderful creatures, including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the ever-smiling Cheshire Cat, the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, and The March Hare, Mad Hatter, and Dormouse, who invite Alice to the strangest tea-party she has ever attended. Her final obstacle is the brutal and bellowing Queen of Hearts, who, along with her enchanted deck of playing cards, tricks Alice into playing a life-and-death game of croquet.
Alice continues her adventures in Through the Looking-Glass, which is loosely based on a game of chess and includes Carroll’s famous poem “Jabberwocky.”
Throughout her fantastic journeys, Alice manages to retain her reason, humor, and sense of justice. She has grown up to become one of the great characters of imaginative literature—as immortal as Don Quixote, Huckleberry Finn, Captain Ahab, Sherlock Holmes, and Dorothy Gale of Kansas.
An writer, artist, and critic, Tan Lin is the author of two books of poetry, Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe, and BlipSoak01. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches creative writing at New Jersey City University.
The questions that Alice asks are not answered by the animals in Wonderland nor by anyone after she wakens. It is likely that her questions don’t have answers or that there are no right questions to ask. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass remain the most prophetic of the nineteenth century’s anti-narratives, inverted quest romances, circular mathematical treatises on the illogical logic of forgetting one’s desires. They display a logic that the child must master in order to grow up.
—from the Introduction by Tan Lin
Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson on January 27, 1832, in Daresbury, Cheshire, England. Young Charles had a sharp intellect and, tutored by his father, was well ahead of the other students when he enrolled in grade school. After graduation from Christ Church college of Oxford University, he taught mathematics and logic at Christ Church. In 1856, he created the pseudonym “Lewis Carroll” (versions of his first and middle names in reverse order). Throughout his career, he signed his mathematical works Charles Dodgson and his literary works Lewis Carroll. Carroll never married, but led a charitable, productive life unshaken by the political and social upheavals of the day. His more than 300 published works comprise poetry, mathematics, logic, and his beloved children’s stories. Lewis Carroll died in Guildford, England, on January 14, 1898.
About the Author
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-98), or Lewis Carroll as he was better known, was a lecturer in Mathematics at Oxford University when he wrote Alice in Wonderland (1865), and later Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871) for Alice Liddell. Mervyn Peake (1911-68) was an artist and writer. In addition to Treasure Island and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, he also illustrated Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm and The Hunting of the Snark. His novels include the Gormenghast trilogy - Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone - and Mr Pye.
Date of Birth:January 27, 1832
Date of Death:January 14, 1898
Place of Birth:Daresbury, Cheshire, England
Place of Death:Guildford, Surrey, England
Education:Richmond School, Christ Church College, Oxford University, B.A., 1854; M.A., 1857
Read an Excerpt
DOWN THE RABBIT-HOLE.
ALICE was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?
So she was considering in her own mind, (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid,) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a white rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnelfor some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.
Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything: then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and bookshelves: here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labelled "ORANGE MARMALADE," but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody underneath, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.
"Well!" thought Alice to herself, "after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!" (Which was very likely true.)
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? "I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?" she said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think" (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the school-room, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) "yes, that's about the right distancebut then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (Alice had not the slightest idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she thought they were nice grand words to say.)
Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards! The Antipathies, I think" (she was rather glad there was no one listening this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) "but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this New Zealand or Australia?" (and she tried to curtsy as she spokefancy curtsying as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?) "And what an ignorant little girl she'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere."
Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again. "Dinah'll miss, me very much to-night, I should think! (Dinah was the cat.) "I hope they'll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that's very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?" And here Alice began to get very sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, "Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?" and sometimes, "Do bats eat cats?" for, you see, as she couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way she put it. She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and was saying to her very earnestly, "Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?" when suddenly, thump! thump! down she came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.
Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up on to her feet in a moment: she looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before her was another long passage, and the White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it. There was not a moment to be lost: away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, "Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!" She was close behind it when she turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen: she found herself in a long, low hall, which was lit up by a row of lamps hanging from the roof.
There were doors all around the hall, but they were all locked, and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever to get out again.
Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it but a tiny golden key, and Alice's first idea was that this might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: she tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted!
Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway; "and even if my head would go through," thought poor Alice, "it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin." For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.
There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it, ("which certainly was not here before," said Alice,) and tied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label with the words "DRINK ME" beautifully printed on it in large letters.
It was all very well to say "Drink me," but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry: "no, I'll look first," she said, "and see whether it's marked 'poison' or not:" for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them, such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that if you drink much from a bottle marked "poison," it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.
However, this bottle was not marked "poison," so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice, (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavor of cherry-tart, custard, pineapple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off.
* * *
"What a curious feeling!" said Alice, "I must be shutting up like a telescope."
And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high, and her face brightened up at the thought that she was now the right size for going through the little door into that lovely garden. First, however, she waited for a few minutes to see if she was going to shrink any further: she felt a little nervous about this, "for it might end, you know," said Alice to herself, "in my going out altogether, like a candle. I wonder what I should be like then?" And she tried to fancy what the flame of a candle looks like after the candle is blown out, for she could not remember ever having seen such a thing.
After a while, finding that nothing more happened, she decided on going into the garden at once, but, alas for poor Alice! when she got to the door, she found she had forgotten the little golden key, and when she went back to the table for it, she found she could not possibly reach it: she could see it quite plainly through the glass, and she tried her best to climb up one of the legs of the table, but it was too slippery, and when she had tired herself out with trying, the poor little thing sat down and cried.
"Come, there's no use in crying like that!" said Alice to herself, rather sharply," I advise you to leave off this minute!" She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it,) and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes, and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people. "But it's no use now," thought poor Alice, "to pretend to be two people! Why, there's hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person!"
Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words "EAT ME" were beautifully marked in currants. "Well, I'll eat it," said Alice, "and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!"
She ate a little bit, and said anxiously to herself "Which way? Which way?" holding" her hand on the top of her head to feel which way it was growing, and she was quite surprised to find that she remained the same size: to be sure, this is what generally happens when one eats cake, but Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.
So she set to work, and very soon finished off the cake.
Table of Contents
Reading Group Guide
ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS
by Lewis Carroll
In his diary on July 4, 1862, Lewis Carroll wrote, "Duckworth and I made an expedition up the river to Godstow with the three Liddells: we had tea on the bank there, and did not reach Christ Church again till quarter past eight, when we took them to my rooms to see my collection of micro photographs, and restored them to the Deanery just before nine." Although Carroll did not know at the time, this excursion proved to be the catalyst for the fairy tale which he initially called Alice's Adventures Underground.
In later years, Carroll, his friend Robinson Duckworth, and Alice Liddell all alluded to this day as the origin of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In the opening poem to the story, Carroll wrote:
Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:
Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out
And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.
In its initial form, this tale told on July 4, 1862, was simply another entry in the oral story tradition that Carroll forged on the numerous expeditions on the "quiet stream." Years later, Carroll wrote, "many a day we had rowed together on that quiet streamthe three little maidens and Iand many a fairy tale had been extemporised for their benefit." He indicates there were numerous other tales that "lived and died like summer midges," but in this single instance "one of my little listeners petitioned that the tale might be written out for her," and thus began Alice's adventures.
Alice's adventures begin on a lazy summer day when a "White Rabbit with pink eyes" races by her. While it was unremarkable for a rabbit to run by her and it was not "very much out of the way" to hear the Rabbit talk, she hurried after the White Rabbit when it "actually took a watch out of its waistcoat pocket." Alice scrambled to her feet and followed it, without a thought, down a large rabbit-hole. Similarly, in Through the Looking-Glass, Alice impulsively goes through the glass over the mantel and into the Looking-Glass room. Later, in both stories, this initial impulsiveness becomes tempered through experience. Although Alice learns from her experiences, the stories were neither moralistic nor written for the purpose of teaching lessons. Instead, they were, and still are, two of the most highly imaginative fairy tales ever conceived.
Both Alice and Looking-Glass, while drawn from Carroll's extemporaneous stories, were later refined and infused with a wealth of allusions to both his own experiences and Alice's. In her travels through Wonderland and the chess-board world behind the Looking-Glass, Alice encounters a multitude of curiosities, many traceable to experiences in her own life. In chapter II of Alice, "The Pool of Tears," she encounters a Duck, a Dodo, a Lory, and an Eaglet. This entire episode in the pool alludes to a trip that Carroll referred to in his diary for June 17, 1862. On this day, during a trip, the traveling party was drenched in a downpour. The animals who appear in the "Pool" chapter represent the trip's participants: the Duck is Carroll's friend Robinson Duckworth, the Dodo is Carroll (a stutterer all his life, Carroll would often pronounce his real name Dodgson as "Do-Do-Dodgson"), and the Lory and the Eaglet are Alice's sisters, Lorina and Edith.
When it was published in 1865, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was reviewed widely in newspapers and journals drawing near universal praise. Among the reviewing publications were The Times, the Spectator, and the Publisher's Circular. The Circular selected the story as "the most original and most charming" of the 200 books for children they were sent that year. When it was published in late 1871, Through the Looking-Glass reaped similar praise.
While Carroll continued to write children's stories, his distinguished place in literary history was firmly established with the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. By the time Carroll died in 1898, there were about 250,000 copies of these stories in print.
While the Alice books have charmed and excited children ever since their first publication, they have also stimulated a wide array of literary, philosophical, and psychological discussion from twentieth-century writers. As the editor of the Penguin Classics edition, Hugh Haughton, makes clear, at the heart of these children's books lie fascinating questions about meaning. Maneuvering throughout Carroll's puns, word plays, and unconventional prose, the adult reader of these books, often finds him or herself feeling two responses at once: a submission to the spontaneous play of nonsense, to utter meaninglessnessas the Lobster-Quadrille would urgeand a compulsion to interpret, or decode meaning in even the most trivial incidentas Queen Alice might do. For twentieth-century writers like James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and W. H. Auden who borrowed freely from Carroll, the Alice books have become models of experimental writing. For other intellectuals, reading Alice's Adventures and Through the Looking-Glass as Surrealist dream books, Freudian case studies, or political allegories, they have become texts brimming with profound insights.
ABOUT LEWIS CARROLL Of Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf said, "since childhood remained in him entire, he could do what no one else has ever been able to dohe could return to that world; he could re-create it, so that we too become children again." Edmund Wilson also recognized Carroll's ability to see from a child's perspective when he noted, "Lewis Carroll is in touch with the real mind of childhood." Wilson linked this understanding to a flair for drawing on "the more primitive elements of the mind of maturity." These characterizations describing the creator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass exemplify the enigmatic Carroll. However, most casual readers may be unaware that Carroll was also a don at Christ Church, Oxford University where he spent most of his adult life as a Mathematics lecturer. In addition, Carroll was a logician, a renowned photographer, and a prolific letter writer and diarist.
Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in 1832 in the parsonage of Daresbury in Cheshire, England, a small village about twenty miles from Liverpool. The third child and eldest son in a household of seven girls and four boys, Charles spent the first eleven years of his life on this secluded farm. The surroundings of the parsonage were reflected in the characters and images that grace both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. One can imagine a young Charles seeing the White Rabbit, the animals in the Caucus-Race, the Caterpillar and the mushroom, the Mouse, the garden of flowers and much more as he grew up amidst the barnyard and fields of the parsonage.
In 1850, Charles entered Christ Church, Oxford where he would spend the rest of his life as a student, fellow, and lecturer; and where he developed into an accomplished photographer, and met Alice Liddell, the heroine of his great stories. During his lifetime, Charles Dodgson published nearly 300 works on an array of topics. These works included not only children's stories but also books and pamphlets on mathematics, logic, and philosophical debates at Oxford. In addition, he wrote parodies such as "Hints for Etiquette, or Dining Out Made Easy" and constructed games, puzzles, riddles, and acrostics. Among his works are: Euclid and His Modern Rivals, Formulae of Plane Trigonometry, Guide to the Mathematical Student in Reading, and Game of Logic (a method of teaching the principles of logic to children). Allusions to these writings and interests were scattered throughout the Alice books. Both stories, though clearly written to amuse young children, were also replete with puns and allusions to Victorian society, making them 'mature' enough to pique the interest of adults. Interestingly, Dodgson contrived his pen name as a slight puzzle in itself. The pseudonym Lewis Carroll, was created by Latinizing his two given names, Charles Lutwidge, to Carolus Ludovicus, reversing them and translating them back into English.
Besides the array of intellectual pursuits, Charles Dodgson's interests also extended to gadgets, most importantly the photographic camera. Dodgson was introduced to photography by his Uncle Skeffington Lutwidge. In the 1850s and 1860s, prior to the actual development of film, this art form required patience and devotion. Among the persons of his era whom Dodgson persuaded to sit for portraits were the poet Alfred Tennyson, Sir John Millais, Prince Leopold (the youngest son of Queen Victoria), Lord Salisbury (who became Oxford Chancellor in 1870), the Crown Prince of Denmark, John Ruskin, and the actress Ellen Terry. Besides such luminaries, Dodgson also photographed young children he met during his years at Oxford, including Alice Liddell.
However, it is through Charles Dodgson's extensive letters and diaries that a great deal of his life, motivations, and inspiration are revealed. Starting on January 1, 1861, Dodgson began maintaining a register of all the letters he sent and received. Although the register has never been found, the final number that he recorded was 98,721. In a letter to a friend of his, Mary Brown, he estimated he wrote 2,000 letters each year. There are letters to friends, family, his publisher and illustrator, and to endearing young fans. The minutiae of daily life also crept into his correspondence. After the death of his brother-in-law, just days prior to his own, he wrote his nephew, Stuart Collingwood requesting a simple funeral and burial upon his own death. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson died at age 66 on January 14, 1898.
- Traditionally, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are both considered stories intended for children. If you were asked to support the contention that these are actually stories for adults, how would you defend this?
- Alice Liddell, the model for Carroll's fairy tale heroine, was a young child when these stories were first told. Although a child in the story, Alice often exhibits mature characteristics; and the adult characters often exhibit childish behavior. Do you consider these books to be an adult's view of childhood, or a child's view of adulthood?
- Alice rarely speaks nonsense and rarely enjoys it when it is spoken to her. In fact, her speech and manners are as proper as those of any Jane Austen heroine. How is Alice's perception of the world changed when confronted with the world and characters of nonsense?
- The Cheshire Cat suggests that everything Alice experiences in Wonderland is a dream or the result of madness. Prefiguring Freud's theories, Carroll, in a diary entry, defined "insanity as an inability to distinguish which is the waking and which the sleeping life." Besides the obvious absurdities in imagery what other aspects of these books mimic a dream state?
- "Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves." This play on the proverb, "Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves," is a good example of Carroll's word play. Often these word plays end up with a nonsensical locution; but at other times, as is the case here, they create a completely different, often subversive, meaning. Discuss other examples of Carroll's word play.
- Throughout her adventures, Alice grapples with her identity. While this is a common feature of most children's books, Alice's questioning often inadvertently invokes the ideas of western philosophers from Plato to Bishop Berkeley. What philosophical issues about identity does Alice raise?
- Throughout both Alice and Looking-Glass, Alice usually exhibits a passivity to the incomprehensible events around her. However, at critical times, she learns to assume control of her circumstances. When does this occur and what actions does she take?
- What is the significance of the mushroom that Alice eats during her adventures?
- Let's assume that in Lewis Carroll's original telling of these stories, he viewed himself as a teacher/mentor to Alice Liddell. How do the ways in which the fictional Alice adapts to her shifting and unusual circumstances translate into meaningful lessons for a child of Alice Liddell's age?
- If the Caterpillar from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland were to give advice to Tweedledee and Tweedledum from Through the Looking-Glass on how to solve their differences without having "a bit of a fight," what might the Caterpillar advise?
- Since their publication, many readers have found material in Carroll's book unsuitable for children. Which parts of the Alice books, if any, do you think are unfit, or even harmful, to children today?
An Interview with Helen Oxenbury
Barnes & Noble.com: When you were a child, did you always know you'd be an artist of some sort when you grew up? How did you get your start illustrating kids' books?
Helen Oxenbury: No, I didn't think I would be an artist, but my father was an architect, so drawing in one way or another was very familiar to me. I drew all the time -- but I didn't really think anything of it. It was just something I thought everybody did. What I wanted to be was a dancer. I learned ballet from the age of three and absolutely loved it. And later on, I wanted to be a tennis player. I made it to Junior Wimbledon, but when you go somewhere like that, you realize when you haven't got it -- that you're not good enough. I wasn't -- so that was the end of that. Then when I left secondary school, my father encouraged me to go to art school. I loved every minute of the course I took in art. And I suppose it was at that moment that I thought I would carry on and try for a career in art. But not in illustration at that point. I specialized in theater design. And I worked in the theater for a few years and in television, and it was only after I had married John [Burningham], who was an illustrator and had already produced about two books, that I got the idea. I saw what was involved and how it was done and when we married and started a family, I really wanted to carry on working, so I tried to illustrate children's books -- because I could do it at home. I didn't have to leave the babies. And that's how I started illustrating.
B&N.com: What made you want to take on Alice in Wonderland as a project?
HO: My mother read Alice to me when I was a little girl, and I'm not sure that I particularly understood it all, but I just caught her enthusiasm for it. She loved it. And then I went back to it as an adult and saw all the things that she had loved in it. I, too, loved it on another level. But how this Alice came about was that a television company wanted to make an animated film about it, and they asked a few people to submit illustrations; I think mine were the most suitable. So I did a lot of work and a lot of research on Alice, and that's when I found my ideal Alice. And the project was all sort of going ahead...and then the team left. So I thought, I've done so much work on this, this must be the moment that I go ahead and try and do it on my own. So I took my work to my publisher, and he said, "yes, fine, go ahead."
B&N.com: Was it difficult to illustrate Alice in Wonderland?
HO: Yes. There were several times when I wanted to give it up or to shelve it and go back to it in six months. But my publisher was very encouraging, and they said, "Oh come on, Helen, you can do it...get on with it -- do it." So I did. And that's how it came about.
B&N.com: How long did it take you to illustrate Alice in Wonderland?
HO: It took a good two years to do. But all the research and working, thinking it was going to be an animated film, was about a year before that. So I'd say three years in all. It was difficult because Alice in Wonderland comes with so much baggage; the most wonderful people have illustrated it. And of course I was brought up with the Tenniel illustrations -- which I loved -- but I had to think of how to make it different from Tenniel's Alice in Wonderland. His version was quite sparsely illustrated, so I thought for today's children, because the language is a little bit difficult, they probably could be helped along the way with pictures. So I made my Alice in Wonderland quite densely illustrated. I also wanted to bring to the fore the peripheral characters like the little creatures, which Tenniel didn't do. And to make my illustrations a little warmer and a little more humorous than Tenniel's.
B&N.com: Throughout your career, you've worked on books geared toward a wide range of ages. Is there a type of book that is more difficult for you to illustrate?
HO: The board books, I suppose [I Can, I Hear, I See, I Touch]. It's quite difficult to pare down and simplify. It looks easy, but it isn't. Like an author with his writing, it's extremely difficult to take something down to the bare bones. It took quite a time to get a style going for those board books.
B&N.com: What kinds of things do you like to do when you're not working?
HO: Well, I still play tennis. I kept it up...but it's on a really pathetic level now. I also do yoga, and I love exploring antique shops and junk shops.
B&N.com: What advice do you have for kids who say they want to be illustrators?
HO: Well, I say, "Go ahead!" It is so much more difficult today than it was in my day. I mean, I wouldn't like to have to start now. It's so competitive, and there are so many children's books around. But don't not do it because of that, if you really want to.
B&N.com: Can you tell me some of your favorite kids' books?
HO: That's jolly difficult. I love the work of Edward Ardizzone and Dr. Seuss, who's an absolute genius. But no specific books are coming to me right now. I know, when I put the phone down, it will all come to me....
B&N.com: That's all right, we'll leave it at that. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. Your Wonderland is simply wonderful, and it's been great getting to know you. (Jamie Levine)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have a copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass which was given to me on my seventh birthday. I found it fascinating. My grandmother gave me a copy along with a harmonica. The harmonica was lost long ago, the book remains and has always had a place in my heart. I was too young to read the entire book, so my father started reading this book to me. Perhaps still having this book has given me a connection to the past. I laugh when I reminisce about my father (who is now 70) singing ¿Beautiful Soup,¿ most beautifully I must add. He also recited ¿Jabberwocky¿ and I can still hear his voice as he read the tale of the Walrus: ¿The time has come,¿ the Walrus said, ¿To talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax of cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.¿ The Mad Tea Party is also very memorable. There is all kinds of nonsense talk children will love to try to figure out, and as adults still might be trying to figure out! They will love the riddles and beautiful illustrations. The mouse, the chess pieces and the Cheshire cat talk most intelligently about various concerns in Wonderland. Just as everything in a child¿s world is sometimes alive to them, so Alice¿s world is filled with things that are alive and most interesting to children. Alice never seems to run out of adventures. The Looking Glass House is amusing to me as it has a cute black kitten who is quite mischievous. I quote: ¿Oh, you wicked, wicked little thing!¿ cried Alice catching up the kitten and giving it a little kiss to make it understand that it was in disgrace. ¿Really, Dinah ought to have taught you better manners! ¿¿. Kitty sat very demurely on her knee, pretending to watch the progress of the winding, and now and then putting out one paw and gently touching the ball, as if it would be glad to help if it might. John Tenniel¿s illustrations make the book and together he and Lewis Carroll created a magical world for children to explore. I hope you will read this book to your children, read them many books about many things. They will always thank you for it. Thank you Dad, I love you! You have given me so many things, and I thank you for my love of reading. I dedicate this review to my dad who will always live eternally with me as long as I have this book tucked safely away.
Without a doubt a Classic in it own. My daughter loves it and she is !7yrs old. It will entertain ages 0-99..Great investment to add to a home library.
This book Alice in Wonderland is a very good book. I think that it is a very good book because it is really interesting. It is a really interesting book because it's about this girl who dreams of the craziest things. In my opinion the author which is Lewis Caroll has a very creative and interesting mind. It's amazing how a person could come up with such an idea. If you were an adult that reads the book for the first time, you would think that this girl Alice is on drugs to dream of such things. If you dont think that Alice is on drugs then youll probably think that the author who wrote this book is on drugs. I know that there are a lot of books based on this title, but to me this book is the most original and best one. The book has been around for a while and still selling. The reason why is because it is such a great book. So just dont take my word for it, do some research if you dont believe me. I would defenitely recommend this book to anyone who likes fiction stories of any kind. I bet that this book would really get the attention of kids. So I also recommend this book to childeren. Childeren are not the only people i recommend it to but adults as well. Childeren and adults of all ages who love fiction are guaranteed by my experience and knowlege to really love this book as well as i do. I rate this book four out of five stars. The reason I rate this book four out of five instead of five out of five is because it could have been a little better if the authour would just have made the story a little shorter that way children wont get board. Because as we all know there are more children that will read this book than adults.
ok so as being a fifteen year old grew up loving alice in wonderland. Apparently this book is an acid trip relating to the song White rabbit by Jefferson aiplane says my mom. but the song and movie are great so when i get the chance im picking up this book immediateley.
okay, so i realize that Alice in Wonderland seems like a book for little kids and not someone that's 11 or 12 (I read it last year), but I have still wanted to read it since I learned that it was a book and not just a disney movie. But I was so wrong, it's not even funny. Alice in Wonderland is for any age of person- boy or girl- and is about a girl that has crazy adventures in wonderland. And everything, even if it seems weird- think about it- makes sense. Have you thought about it? Even if the mad hatter and the march hair are terrible and rude, they're also very funny and hares in march are said to be crazy as hatters used to be (just all the time- not just in March)everything is like that. i would reccommend this to anyone and everyone ages 0-????? i think it's healthy for people to read something like thisat least once a month.
A lovely edition of one of my favorite stories of all time. I must read this at least once a year to remain sane.
I am a teenager who has recently finsished reading the book 'Alices Adventure's In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass'. I was really satisfied with this book after reading it. I would have to say that this book is a middle school level. I really enjoyed this book because i know for a fact that the author of this book has got to have a real creative mind to come up with this really great material. I mean for a person to come up with a story which involves a girl having this crazy, interesting dream that keeps the reader hooked on thinking about what is going to happend next and how a little girl could dream of such things is just really amazing in my opinion. In my eyes this book deserves five stars hands down. It's a classic book that keeps all people of all ages loving it. I would reccomend this book to anybody who enjoys fiction type stories or books. I am almost certain that if you are a fiction story fanatic, you will surely enjoy this book. Kids especially will love this book because they all love fiction storys. Storys that are inpossible in the real world. I look forward to reading more of this authors books because i really loved the last book that i read which was Alices Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and author by Lewis Caroll which is a real inspirational and creative person in my mind. I have a feeling that her other books are all probably fiction storys, that dont compare to this book in anyway because its an all time classic that mostly everybody has either read or seen the movie. So to all you fiction lovers out there take a little time to read this book and im sure youll love it and be a satisfied reader once you finish the book.
I acquired this book over 20 years ago and read it cover to cover over and over again. I can still remember staying up late to memorize the poetry. I am getting this for my 10 year old neice whom reminds me of me in an all to familiar way. I hope that she treasures this book as much as still treasure mine.
It's Lewis Caroll Again! But this time He has taken the many adventures of Alice And has put them into the eyes of our Children. Only this time miss Alice finds herself being aproched with difficult questions and life situations and finds out that there is more to the world than just tea parties!