As soon as I signed up for the Childhood Favourites reading Challenge that I would be re-reading Alice in Wonderland. It is a joy. I was given a copy by a friend of my grandmother’s for my sixth birthday and I have loved it ever since.
But it’s a book I just can’t review. I don’t have the words.
So what I am going to do if offer up a quote from each chapter accompanied by a picture from one of the many artists who have illustrated Alice over the years. I’m hoping to provide a lovely reminder for those who know and love the book and tempt those who haven’t to pick up a copy.
(The pictures come courtesy of Lauren’s wonderful site.)
And do tell me – What is your favorite part of Alice’s adventures? Who is your favourite illustrator?
Chapter 1 – Down The Rabbit-Hole
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 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 see 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 fortunately 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.
Chapter 2 – The Pool of Tears
`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); `now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off). `Oh, my poor little feet, I wonder who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears? I’m sure _I_ shan’t be able! I shall be a great deal too far off to trouble myself about you: you must manage the best way you can; –but I must be kind to them,’ thought Alice, `or perhaps they won’t walk the way I want to go! Let me see: I’ll give them a new pair of boots every Christmas.’
Chapter 3 – A Caucus Race and a Long Tale
First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out `The race is over!’ and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?’
Chapter 4 – The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill
It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about as it went, as if it had lost something; and she heard it muttering to itself `The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She’ll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where CAN I have dropped them, I wonder?’ Alice guessed in a moment that it was looking for the fan and the pair of white kid gloves, and she very good-naturedly began hunting about for them, but they were nowhere to be seen–everything seemed to have changed since her swim in the pool, and the great hall, with the glass table and the little door, had vanished completely.
Chapter 5 – Advice From a Caterpillar
The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice. `Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I–I hardly know, sir, just at present– at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’
Chapter 6 – Pig and Pepper
The door led right into a large kitchen, which was full of smoke from one end to the other: the Duchess was sitting on a three-legged stool in the middle, nursing a baby; the cook was leaning over the fire, stirring a large cauldron which seemed to be full of soup. `There’s certainly too much pepper in that soup!’ Alice said to herself, as well as she could for sneezing. There was certainly too much of it in the air. Even the Duchess sneezed occasionally; and as for the baby, it was sneezing and howling alternately without a moment’s pause. The only things in the kitchen that did not sneeze, were the cook, and a large cat which was sitting on the hearth and grinning from ear to ear.
Chapter 7 – A Mad Tea-Party
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and the talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; `only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’ The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There’s PLENTY of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.
Chapter 8 – The Queen’s Croquet-Ground
`Would you tell me,’ said Alice, a little timidly, `why you are painting those roses?’ Five and Seven said nothing, but looked at Two. Two began in a low voice, `Why the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a RED rose-tree, and we put a white one in by mistake; and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have our heads cut off, you know. So you see, Miss, we’re doing our best, afore she comes, to–‘ At this moment Five, who had been anxiously looking across the garden, called out `The Queen! The Queen!’ and the three gardeners instantly threw themselves flat upon their faces. There was a sound of many footsteps, and Alice looked round, eager to see the Queen.
Chapter 9 – The Mock Turtle’s Story
Alice heard the King say in a low voice, to the company generally, `You are all pardoned.’ `Come, THAT’S a good thing!’ she said to herself, for she had felt quite unhappy at the number of executions the Queen had ordered. They very soon came upon a Gryphon, lying fast asleep in the sun. (IF you don’t know what a Gryphon is, look at the picture.) `Up, lazy thing!’ said the Queen, `and take this young lady to see the Mock Turtle, and to hear his history. I must go back and see after some executions I have ordered’; and she walked off, leaving Alice alone with the Gryphon. Alice did not quite like the look of the creature, but on the whole she thought it would be quite as safe to stay with it as to go after that savage Queen: so she waited.
Chapter 10 – The Lobster Quadrille
Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soo–oop of the e–e–evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
Chapter 11 – Who Stole The Tarts?
The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them–all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards: the Knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, and a scroll of parchment in the other. In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it: they looked so good, that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them–`I wish they’d get the trial done,’ she thought, `and hand round the refreshments!’ But there seemed to be no chance of this, so she began looking at everything about her, to pass away the time.
Chapter 12 – Alice’s Evidence
`Who cares for you?’ said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) `You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’ At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.
What a fun way to review a classic!
Believe it or not I brought this book home from my middle school library to read for the very FIRST time this summer…now after reading your gorgeous post and looking at those wonderful illustrations I can hardly wait to dive into this book!!! I love your take on a review of this classic!!!
I haven’t read this in a very long time. It might be time to revisit it.
Love the illustrations!
What a gorgeous review. I can’t believe that I have never read this but obviously have a real treat in store when I do!
This is a great way to review this book. I agree with you that it would be impossible to do a conventional review. I am torn between the Mat Hatter and the Queen croquet. I remember both so well and it has been so many years. Thanks for the reminder.
I love Alice! In fact I really like Lweis Carrol. I thinkmy faourite from these illustrations would be AA nash, theres somethin appealing about Alice with dark hair.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is such a favourite of mine that I – with my techie husband – produced an audiobook of it. The Times’ reviewer liked it and BBC Radio Oxford are going to play short extracts every day from 29th June-3rd July. Oxfordshire actors do the voices: very good and funny. Listen to an audioclip on our website http://www.oxfordstorypods.com. To mark the day Carroll told the story for the first time (July 4th) we have a special offer price of only £5 for the CD. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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You have a lovely site. It is a pleasure to the eye and mind!
I just finished reading Philippa Pearce’s new book (published after her death), FINDER’S MAGIC. Many years ago I read TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN. I was again taken by her exquisite writing, wonderful imagination and generous heart. Next I read THE LITTLE GENTLEMAN and THE MINNOW LEADS TO TREASURE. I shall again read TOM’S MIDNIGHT GARDEN because it is such an important book and such a treasure.
I recently listened to ALICE read by Jim Dale. I think he did a brilliant job with all the voices–especially the Queen!