Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
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With an Introduction and Notes by Michael Irwin, Professor of English Literature, University of Kent at Canterbury

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Gr 3 Up-Lewis Carroll's absurdist 1865 classic is warmly narrated by Jim Dale whose jovial performance draws in listeners. The original novel (not to be confused with the oft-combined latter novel, Through the Looking Glass) follows Alice down the rabbit-hole and on her surreal adventure into an underground world of anthropomorphic, poetry spouting woodland creatures, pithy playing cards, and the infamous Queen of Hearts. Carroll's wit is still razor sharp, his plays on logic are timeless, and the literary nonsense is consistently enjoyable. However, many of the jokes and references have faded with the passage of time and will most likely be incomprehensible to children below the middle grades. Dale's narration is lively and energetic throughout, and he clearly voices each of the uniquely absurd characters. A fine addition to collections of fantasy or the classics.-AshleyRose Sullivan, Campbell County Public Library, KY Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Zwerger's (The Wizard of Oz) captivating cover image of the Mad Tea-Party for this edition of Carroll's 1865 tale conveys the psychological tension of the interior artwork: Alice, at the head of an elongated table with a pristine white linen cloth, stares at the pocket watch that the March Hare is about to lower into his cup of tea. The Hare, bug-eyed, gazes out at readers while the Mad Hatter to his right, wearing a hat box, fixates on a black upturned chapeau (in lieu of a place setting), and the Dormouse between them sleeps. Across the table, an empty red mug is placed in front of a vacant green chair, and a teacup and saucer trimmed in red seems to be set for the reader. The painting conveys the way in which Zwerger brilliantly manages both to invite readers into the story and to keep them at a distance. From the heroine's first appearance, as she falls down a well while chasing the White Rabbit, with a glimpse of orderly bookshelves at the upper left corner, Zwerger demonstrates the many layers to Alice's journey: a cutaway view reveals that the bulk of the other "shelves" are the result of rats and insects tunneling underground. The supporting cast conveys the artist's nearly sardonic perspective. The contrary caterpillar, with six of its eight arms crossed, would be at home in New York's East Village: instead of a hookah it smokes a cigarette and sips red wine, yetÄunlike Sir John Tenniel's sedated counterpartÄthis caterpillar is lucid, defiantly staring out at an Alice (and readers) absent from the scene. Zwerger's penetrating interpretation reinvents Carroll's situations and characters and demands a rereading of the text. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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