Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Alice in Wonderland...you ageless wonder, you.


When I was in 3rd grade, I found a pale blue dress with a white sash in the hall closet. I knew immediately I would be Alice that year for Halloween. I bet I don’t even have to tell you who Alice is for you to guess I mean the one in Wonderland. My older sister went as the White Rabbit and carried my dad’s pocket watch. We loved proclaiming, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!”

Here we are 145 years after the book was published, and the world is still fascinated with Alice in Wonderland. It’s rather remarkable what an enormous influence a children’s book, a book written for a child in 1865, has had on modern culture and people of all ages.

In 5th grade, I remember being mesmerized by the video for “Don’t Come around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers featuring Alice and the famous tea party. In high school, my senior class play was the musical of Alice in Wonderland, and I played the Queen of Hearts. I recall a restaurant in a neighboring town called The Cheshire Cat. I also read a book as a teenager called Go Ask Alice, which is the anonymous cautionary diary of a girl in the 1960s and her struggles and downward spiral with drug abuse. This particular book takes its cue from the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit” based on the various “eat me” and “drink me” references in the Lewis Carroll story. There’s even a bar in my hometown called The Jabberwock, which comes from a poem in the sequel, Through the Looking Glass. And these are just a few personal references I came up within a matter of minutes.

As a child, I vividly remember being fascinated with the story of Alice in Wonderland. I loved the idea of falling, falling, falling without hurting myself, and of living in a world where animals could talk and operate just like people but with a magical twist. I was obsessed with the possibility of changing sizes and, of course, what girl didn’t want to be the Queen of Hearts? Well maybe not every girl, but it turned out to be my destiny. Off with her head!

Classic books like this are easily overlooked because of the endless pop culture references we find in modern-day life. It seems we learn the story through all these different expressions, rather than from the actual book! That’s exactly why you need to start with the original and provide your child with the foundation for all those everyday references. Movies like The Wizard of Oz, Stuart Little, and Peter Pan were all books first and have much more to offer than the just the movie alone.

Plus, these are exactly the kinds of stories that are great to read out loud with your child. Even when your child can read on her own, classics like Alice in Wonderland are perfect to share together because there are so many opportunities for discussion. There’s a reason the story is still so relevant 145 years later.

I found what I thought to be a very thought-provoking article on about some of the insightful lines from Alice and Wonderland on About.com. http://quotations.about.com/od/moretypes/a/alice1.htm
It’s a good little sample of what’s to come. Enjoy the read!

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