Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reader's Diary #438- Lewis Carroll: Through The Looking Glass

When we first started adding chapter books to our daughter's bedtime routine, my wife and I would take turns reading the chapters. Before long, however, we started to feel like we were missing out. While our daughter was hearing the whole book, neither of us were. And the parent's enjoyment of the read-aloud is just as important, isn't it?

So, when we bought the double volume of Alice stories by Lewis Carroll, my wife decided she'd read Alice's Adventure in Wonderland, and I'd follow it up with Through The Looking Glass. Truthfully, I was happy with going second. I'd seen movie versions of Adventures, so many times I figured I was familiar with the story anyway. As for Through The Looking Glass, I'd only seen one movie version (it was part of a miniseries starring Sherman Hemsley, Scott Baio, Karl Malden and many others). I was, of course, also familiar with the poems "Jabberwocky" and "The Walrus and the Carpenter." (I still remember my old Trivial Pursuit Junior with the Lewis Carroll quote on the side, "'The time has come,' the Walrus said, 'to talk of many things...'")

I'm a little disappointed with the book. I'd have figured I'd have been a bigger fan of nonsense, but this was like overdosing on it. Plus, while I enjoyed some of the characters, none were as appealing or as varied as the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, the Caterpillar, or the others from Wonderland. Finally, the chess analogy (or references, I'm not sure) was confusing. I can play chess, I enjoy chess, but Carroll's version of it was way too muddled. My daughter, who doesn't play chess, must have been totally lost.

She didn't, however, complain. She rarely, if ever, says anything negative about a book (we really need to work on that!) I did note that her attention seemed to be more on her Care Bears than what I was reading. One night, after a long day's work, I was falling asleep in the middle of reading and I caught myself talking gibberish as I was nearing dreamland. I looked to see if she'd caught that I hadn't been making sense for quite some time. She was petting the cat and hadn't noticed at all. Either my nonsense had blended into Carroll's seamlessly, or she had me tuned out long ago.


Wanda said...

lol John, I've done the half asleep gibberish talk myself but my 8yo always catches me; brings me around again with her laughter.

I don't care for the Alice stories at all but my oldest daughter loved them when she was little.

Anonymous said...

I can usually make it through the picture books with my youngest, but I often drift off while reading novels to my oldest (she has to go last). She recalls me to duty with an irritated "Mom. Mom!" in a tone that pretty closely approximates the way I wake her in the morning :)
I think I have read only parts of Alice's adventures. Sigh. They're on the list. (We did a musical play of Alice in Wonderland in fourth grade, and I've seen the Disney movie a few times...)

John Mutford said...

Wanda: I usually get a pretty stern "Daddy!" but not this time around.

Jennifer: Since I only read Through The Looking Glass, I can't really comment on how the Disney version compares to Alice in Wonderland. I do prefer it over the book's sequel though, if that makes any sense.

Ali said...

I found the Alice books a little disappointing when rereading them as an adult, too. Same goes for Raold Dahl books. What I remembered as wacky was a lot more creepy-weird from the vantage point of adulthood.

Unknown said...

I'm a big fan of both, though I agree Wonderland is much better than Looking-Glass overall. My 7th graders read Wonderland as a class and some of them read Looking-Glass. We all think it is much wierder than the first book.

John Mutford said...

Ali: I enjoyed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I read it recently, though I can see how creepiness crept in there from time to time.

C.B. James: It's what I get for starting with the 2nd book rather than the first, but now I'm in no real rush to read Wonderland.