Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
A book review for parents
This fantasy adventure novel by Lewis Carroll was written for ages 8 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
When Alice follows the White Rabbit down a rabbit hole, she finds herself in a land where she can change her size. She meets a Duchess with a pig for a baby, a Cook that throws spoons, a wise but mad Cheshire cat, the March Hare, Mad Hatter and a Dormouse. A Caterpillar shows her how to adjust her height by eating from the right and left sides of a mushroom. With that knowledge, Alice is able to enter a beautiful garden to play croquet with the Queen of Hearts. This game of croquet is played with flamingos (mallets), balls (curled-up hedgehogs) and an army of bent-over cards (arches). As the living croquet game continually changes, the Queen has most of her guests arrested, but introduces Alice to a Gryphon and Mock Turtle. By the end, almost everyone she meets ends up in a courtroom where the King of Hearts wants a verdict before the evidence, jurors pay attention to all the wrong information, witnesses are threatened with punishment and Alice grows tall enough not to be intimidated by a pack of cards, which is what the court and soldiers are. Suddenly Alice wakes up and realizes that her entire adventure was an amazing dream.
The White Rabbit scurries around as if it's an important person and tells Alice, who he mistakenly calls Mary Ann, to fetch his gloves and fan. When she does this and drinks a liquid that makes her grow so large that she becomes stuck in one of the White Rabbit's rooms, the White Rabbit gets the Lizard that works for him to attack her from the chimney. When that doesn't work, they throw rocks at Alice. The White Rabbit reacts without fully understanding the problem. The Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse host a tea party, but they are rude to Alice when she wants to be included. The Queen of Hearts misuses her authority and constantly orders people's heads removed, but the Gryphon tells Alice that no one in the kingdom has ever been executed. The King of Hearts wants a verdict before evidence, both at the ending trial and when he demands that the Cheshire cat lose its head, even though only its head has appeared at the croquet game. The Gryphon and Mock Turtle tell Alice that her recitations are nonsense, but they do it in a way that she accepts.
Other Belief Systems
The Queen and King of Hearts threaten people with decapitation and execution. Rocks are thrown at Alice, and she and a number of birds and animals fall into water that they swim out of so they don't drown. Alice mentions how her dog and cat kill and often eat birds and mice.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What didn't make sense to Alice about the characters in this story?
What did you find most nonsensical?
What makes a character or an action nonsensical?
Do you ever see these nonsensical elements in your world?
What doesn't make sense to you in your world?
- What did boredom cause Alice to do?
What has boredom caused you to do?
When you feel like there's nothing to do, how can you figure out what there is to do?
- What did Alice's entire adventure turn out to be?
What is one of your dreams?
- Why do you think the author called this place Wonderland?
What would your “Wonderland” hold?
What would be the most important rule in it?
The March Hare offers Alice wine at a tea party, but since there isn't any wine, he doesn't give it to her.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.