Some children’s stories stand the test of time because they are straightforward or simple tales. Others because the characters are so easy to love. Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, which celebrates its 150th anniversary tomorrow, is neither of these and yet it is a perennial favourite, reprinted and reimagined year after year.
In some ways it is an unlikely children’s classic, this convoluted tale of a lost and bewildered child encountering a succession of bizarre and often menacing characters and situations. Or is it? Is that, in fact, exactly what childhood is like? An ongoing battle to make sense of the world, and the strange people in it?
I’m not the only one who thinks Alice’s adventures in Wonderland is something of a riddle. There have been almost as many books written about Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Dodgson) and the genesis of his Alice books as there have been reprints of the stories themselves. Something about them resonates.
Alice, it would seem, is the Mona Lisa of children’s literature – endlessly fascinating and ripe for reinterpretation.
If you’re interested in reacquainting yourself with Alice, Wonderland, and her adventures there we’ve got plenty of books to choose from.
Also our friends at Auckland Libraries have put together a splendid resource showcasing images from their rare editions of the Alice books.