Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a relatively short (and incredibly odd) book but, nevertheless, it took us almost three weeks to read aloud together. That was mostly due to the fact that I'm still (still!) suffering effects from the cold I caught two months ago and reading is still a little bit difficult. (This cold is so. incredibly. ridiculous.) I think one of the things that I hate the most about getting sick is that it interrupts our reading habits for what feels like forever. (I know it's not forever. I'm exaggerating. On purpose. But three weeks with Alice? That's a bit much.)
This has to be one of the weirdest classics in all of history. Experts can't seem to agree why Lewis Carroll wrote this book, what his interests or driving passions were. If the experts don't know, I won't venture a guess. Maybe he just was writing for the fun of it, as something of an experiment. Why on earth it took off and became as well known as it is probably due in great part to Disney. (How on earth else?)
I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland before and I thought it was odd then. Reading it aloud to the kids was an even more interesting experience. My personal opinion is that this book works better as an individual read than as a read aloud. There are so many puns and jokes involved and in order to track with the story and get the most out of it I think you need to have a quick wit. My kids are funny and they can get and take a joke but a lot of Alice went right over their heads. They'll connect with it better (as much as anyone really can) when they are older.
I asked afterwards if they understood the story and they responded affirmatively. (Honestly I think that has to do a lot with Disney and not with Carroll.) They did all laugh out loud on a couple of occasions: once when they met the Duchess in the kitchen dealing with the baby, and then when the Mock Turtle sang his Beautiful Soup song. The kids were also asked what their favorite part of the book was. They collectively agreed that the best part was the song about the soup. (I guess I pulled that off well.)
Of course, we read about Alice because of our upcoming trip to England. One of the places that we are staying is in Oxford and it would be almost embarrassing (well, I would be embarrassed) not to read Alice before we arrive. We have a list of "Alice-themed" places and activities that we wish to engage with during our time in country. Here is a cool blog post detailing some spots that one should visit. Wouldn't it be cool if we got to see the turtle shells on the kitchen wall in the Christ Church kitchen? I guess we'll have to see about that one but it doesn't stop one from dreaming.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is not one of my favorite books on the planet (in case my position has not been obvious). As it is a classic though, I won't shirk it. I'll probably even read it again someday! For the moment though, I'll consider the deed done. I'd rather watch the Disney cartoon version than read the book and we'll make a point of doing that before we leave on our trip later on this year.
Other posts of interest:
* Books Disney Films are Based On
* How the Heather Looks, by Joan Bodger
* Children's Tea and Etiquette