Sunday, August 12, 2012

Books of our youth: Alice in Wonderland

My series of guest posts on books that influenced us as young readers continues with C. Lee McKenzie.

I was eight when I opened a 1941 edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It started with this page:

alice1

followed by a daunting two page italicized poem in the style of the mid-eighteen hundreds. The poem gave even more about how the author had come to write this book. Here’s the first stanza, guaranteed to put you to sleep, right?

All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretence [sic]
Our wanderings to guide.


alice2

I didn’t know about character arcs or plots that built to climaxes, but still I would think that books without these essential storytelling elements would have bored me. I guess they didn’t because I read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and I couldn’t wait to read Through the Looking-Glass.

So why did this book carry me away and stay with me as a book of my youth that I loved and that quite possibly made me into an avid reader, then later a writer?

alice3

I believe it was simply that Alice’s adventures with the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat transported me into a land where magical, mysterious, impossible events happened as commonly as brushing my teeth happened in my “real” world.
Over and over, I read about Alice having tea with the Mad Hatter or playing croquet with the impossible flamingo mallet. Over and over, I read how she grew and shrank, talked to a Caterpillar and the sad Mock Turtle.

Alice captivated my young mind and opened it to how boundless the imagination really is. She made me curiouser and curiouser until I couldn’t resist exploring my own imagination and finding just where it would lead me.

alligators

C. Lee McKenzie (@cleemckenzie on Twitter) is the author of the young-adult novels Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas. Her new middle-grade adventure, Alligators Overhead, features alligators, witches, and a 12-year-old boy in a battle for his town's future. It's available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Or you can watch the trailer here.

19 comments:

  1. I've never hand my hands on such an early edition, but I loved "Alice in Wonderland"... the book, the original movie, and the current one in 3D. I think it's so outrageously imaginative it has a dreamlike quality that appeals to every generation.

    The books that influenced me, however, were the dog stories of Albert Payson Terhune. I'd never had a dog when I read his "Lad, a Dog", but soon after that our family got the first of several, and as an adult I chose Shelties -- Collies in miniature to some people -- to own, breed, train and exhibit for 35+ years. I don't think my kennel was in the ranks of Terhune's Sunnybank Collie kennel, but I always felt a kinship. :)

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    1. Glad we shared a love of Alice and her adventures. Amazing how books influence us. You chose a career because a writer told a story about a dog named Lad.

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    2. Isn't it funny how books can influence us--down to the breed of dog we own!

      I've always loved Carroll's Looking-Glass world, with its hint that the magical might just be lurking around the corner of the real world.

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  2. My BFF Mike says he also liked A. P. Terhune's dog stories when he was a little jug-eared kid. Now he's branched out to a wide range of genres, including Lee's new book about witches and alligators. Speaking of which, I get to interview Lee on my blog tomorrow! Are you ready, Lee?

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    1. Hi Buddy! Lovely to find your comment here. I look forward to talking with you tomorrow!

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    2. I'm glad you're more tolerant of Lee's alligators than the cats were. :)

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  3. "She made me curiouser and curiouser until I couldn’t resist exploring my own imagination and finding just where it would lead me." Great point, Lee! :)

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    1. Don't you love playing with words? Yes, I can tell you do. Thanks for the visit here to Jenn's blog.

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    2. Carroll was great with bending words so that they made sense even if they didn't make sense!

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  4. That edition looks just like the one I grew up with. I love Alice, but it was the Oz books that did it for me.

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    1. They had that adventure and that fantasy that we both must have loved as kids. Well, I think we still love it, don't we? Thanks, Bish!

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    2. Don't hate me, but I've never read Oz, just seen the movie.
      On the other hand, that gives me a whole classic series to discover when I'm ready!

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    3. Well, you see, now you have a fantastic adventure still waiting inside that book!

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  5. This edition looks beautiful. I loved Lee's reasons for loving the book and I found myself nodding along. So wonderful to find out about one of the book that helped to spark her imagination. Great post!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks, DMS. I get some of my inspiration while trying to unriddle your riddles! You two are amazing.

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  6. I love how you were able to tie in Alice In Wonderland with the magical Alligators Overhead trailer! The trailer is outstanding, and for some reason I could only get it to download on Jennifer's site. I need to stop over more often! Julie

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    1. Lovely that you visited today. Jenn always has some interesting series going. Come back!

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    2. Thanks, Julie, and have a wonder-filled day. :)

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