In a recent article titled "Why Alice Still Matters," author Barbara Hoffert asserts that the Alice of the children's classics "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865) and "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There," (1871) "is immortal. She has become our sense of childhood."
Whether you are new to the "Alice" books or would enjoy re-reading them, now is the perfect time because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll (the pen-name of Oxford mathematics professor Charles L. Dodgson).
It has long been assumed by most scholars that Alice Pleasance Liddell was the real-life inspiration for the fictional Alice. During a picnic on July 4, 1862, family friend Charles L. Dodgson regaled the three young Liddell sisters (Edith, Alice, and Lorina) with a story he imagined about a little girl who fell down a rabbit-hole and encountered a strange world called "Wonderland." Ten-year-old Alice later asked Dodgson to write down the story for her which led to the eventual publication of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland".
"Alice I Have Been" by Melanie Benjamin is a first-person novel about Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves that focuses
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on three significant periods in her long life -- her childhood relationship with Dodgson, her young adulthood and the personal tragedy she endured in her later years. Benjamin has a fluid, poetic writing style and moves easily back and forth in time to weave her story.
"Splintered" by A.G. Howard is a dark, romantic young adult novel that should appeal to fans of Tim Burton's 2010 film adaptation ("Alice in Wonderland"). Sixteen-year-old Alyssa Gardner, a descendant of Alice Liddell, hears voices from flowers and insects. When she finds herself in a dangerously real Wonderland she must complete a series of tests that test her ability to rely on herself.
"The Looking Glass Wars" is the first title in a young adult fantasy trilogy by Frank Beddor (followed by "Seeing Redd" and "ArchEnemy"). Almost seven years old and heir apparent to the throne of "Wonderlandia", an alternate universe, Princess Alyss Heart is forced to flee her kingdom when her evil Aunt Redd murders her parents. Adopted by the Liddell family and rechristened as Alice Liddell, she is reprimanded for insisting her wild stories are true, but family friend Charles L. Dodgson writes up the little girl's "adventures" as well, you know. However Wonderlandia is not through with Alyss just yet.
In addition to the Tim Burton film and Walt Disney's 1951 animated version, adult viewers should seek out Czech animator Jan Svankmajer's "Alice," available on the Library database "hoopla." Utilizing both stop-motion animation and live action, this 1988 film has been called a masterpiece of cinema, a strikingly original interpretation of Lewis Carroll's classic tale.
Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. You may also access the library via the Internet: www.mymanatee.org/library. Fran Barba is a reference librarian at the Manatee County Central Library.