Almost as famous as the book is the story of how it came into being: first an improvised tale told to young friends on a summer afternoon; then written down in a homemade book and given to the girl who inspired it. Finally, adults who read the book convinced the author to publish it, which he did, with drawings by the famous illustrator John Tenniel.
Today, many children know only the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland—not a very faithful adaptation of the original, which is more whimsical, at times more grotesque, and above all more focused on language. It’s filled with puns and other word plays.
The story is lively and engaging, with Alice almost immediately falling down the rabbit hole and tumbling rapidly into one fantastical adventure after another. Alice (and your teen or tween) will awaken all too soon from their adventure in Wonderland.
As children, my brother and I memorized whole sections of the story as we listened to this audio book on vinyl records. Today Cyril Ritchard’s masterful performance continues to be a great way to introduce the real Alice to your teen or tween.
If your teen wants to read the book instead, be sure to get a copy with the original Tenniel drawings—they’re an essential part of the Alice experience.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, narrated by Cyril Ritchard (Amazon Download, 2008; originally released 1957), total listening time 4 hours, 53 minutes; Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass illustrated by John Tenniel (Wordsworth Editions, 1999) 272 pages.
RL 9.2, range 7.9-9.9.
Of interest to boys and girls.
If you have a reader who wants to know all the historical details, get every joke, and delve into every crevice of the story, get The Annotated Alice.
The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition by Lewis Carroll, edited by Martin Gardner (W. W. Norton, 1999), 352 pages.
This review has been acquired and adapted from CleanTeenReads.com.
This review was acquired from CleanTeenReads.com on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist. Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here. The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.
Alice remembers cautionary stories of children getting burned by a hot poker, “eaten up by wild beasts,” cutting their “fingers very deeply with a knife” and bleeding, and drinking poison because they didn’t read the label; Alice once boxed her own ears; Alice thinks she might drown in her own tears; Alice tells about her cat catching mice, rats, birds; dog in mouse’s story wants to condemn mouse to death; Alice stretches out her hand and snatches, hears breaking glass and someone falling; loose slate falls from roof; she kicks creature coming down chimney; creatures throw rocks into house at Alice; Alice afraid puppy might eat her, plays with it, fears it may trample her; Alice’s chin slams against her foot because she’s grown so small so fast; plate comes flying out of Duchess’s house, grazes footman’s nose and shatters against tree; cook throws “everything within her reach at the Duchess and the baby,” Alice can’t tell if baby’s hurt or not; Duchess wants someone to chop off Alice’s head; song talks twice about beating little boy “when he sneezes”; cook throws frying pan at Duchess; Alice afraid Duchess’s baby will be killed in a day or two, decides it would be murder to leave it behind; March Hare and Hatter pinch Dormouse; Queen wants Hatter beheaded, Dormouse, soldiers, Alice, all other players at croquet game, Cheshire Cat, everyone else; Duchess “under sentence of execution” because “she boxed the Queen’s ears”; Queen notes that any delay in game “will cost [the players] their lives”; King threatens to have Hatter executed; guinea pigs “suppressed” by being put into a bag and sat on; Alice tips over jury-box when she stands up; Queen throws ink-stand at Bill the Lizard.
Mature Subject Matter:
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Caterpillar smokes a hookah, mentioned throughout his conversation with Alice; March Hare offers Alice some wine but doesn’t really have any; although Alice gets larger and smaller by eating bites from a mushroom, I consider the mushroom to be magical, not hallucinogenic.