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on October 26, 2004
My first exposure to Lewis Carroll's classic children's story was through the 1951 Disney film adaptation "Alice in Wonderland," which I watched repeatedly as a child. The creative quality of the story never failed to fascinate me, and I kept going back despite my deep-rooted terror of the frightful Queen of Hearts, who always gave me nightmares! However, it was not until recently, as an adult, that I ever picked up the book/s upon which that film was based. In some ways I wish I had read it when I was younger, as the book certainly makes a great deal more sense than the movie does (as much sense as a story of this sort can, anyhow), but thankfully this book is unique in that it is just as enjoyable for adults as for children.

The story is actually spread across two books, here contained in a single volume. "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was first published in 1865 and relates the events that take place after young Alice falls asleep during her lessons and dreams of following a white rabbit down a rabbit hole. Alice encounters all manner of strange creatures in her dream, and finds herself in all sorts of curious predicaments where common sense fails and the nonsensical comes to be expected. There is no central, concrete storyline, but rather Alice moves rapidly from one bizarre situation to the next before waking once more and relating the whole adventure to her sister.

The second of the two books, "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There," appeared in 1871 and is very similar in nature to the first, though having a slightly different plot. Here Alice steps through an ordinary looking-glass one day, only to find herself in a world where, if you wish to get anywhere, you must walk in the opposite direction! Walking toward your desired destination only gets you further and further away. Also, interestingly, the land which Alice has entered is essentially a giant chessboard, and she must move through the different squares to reach the other side if she wishes to become a queen (which she does).

The characters Carroll created in these two stories are some of the most strikingly unique and unforgettable in the world of literature. Alice herself, based largely on Alice Liddell, a real-life child of whom Carroll was very fond, is a wonderful heroine that you can't help admiring. Throughout all of her backwards and upside-down adventures, she remains ever sensible and analytical, always trying to reason her way out of the most unreasonable situations. Other characters a reader won't soon forget include the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, Bill the Lizard, the Caterpillar, the Duchess and her peppery cook, the aforementioned Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Gryphon, the Red and White Queens, the talking flowers, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, and the Red and White Knights. Carroll also created many fascinating new creatures in his stories, including bread-and-butterflies, rocking-horseflies, "slithy toves," "mome raths" and more.

What I find most intriguing, as an adult reader of these books, is Carroll's brilliant use of wordplay and symbolism throughout the stories. Nearly everything has some sort of double meaning. There are hidden messags and subtle witticisms on every page. Carroll also includes several parodies of what were well-known songs and rhymes in England at the time. Young children will love the books for their fantastic qualities and imaginative inspiration, but most readers will not pick up on the many puns and jokes until they are a little older, so these stories really do have something to offer to anyone, no matter what age. I'd highly recommend the book to any reader - and be sure to get an edition that includes the original illustrations.

This review refers to the 2004 Barnes & Noble Classics printing, with introduction and notes by Tan Lin.
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on July 14, 2005
There is one thing that all potential customers must keep in mind when buying any Alice book: Do not purchase one that does not include the illustrations of John Tenniel! This edition includes all of them and the quality of the reproductions on the pages are excellent. Tenniel's illustrations help add to the childish excitement of Carroll's stories and will be especially invaluable to teenagers and adults, having just by nature of growing up lost some of the imaginative innocence, that ability to stretch reality, that we all possessed as kids.

Of course, the illustrations wouldn't mean jack if they didn't have a captivating story to work with. Carroll's amusing tale of nonsense is targeted as a kid's book, and that is always where many of our fondest memories of it will remain, but as a college student reading it I was amazed by its power to suspend reality and return me to a level of imagination that I had simply thought I lost somewhere along the way. The trip down the rabbit hole can be quite a different experience from a different point of view.

This particular edition also includes a good introduction and very helpful explanatory notes organized chapter by chapter. The introduction and notes offer insights to Carroll's life and his relations with the real life Alice and her family that, from a student viewpoint, reveal an interesting and more personal side of the Alice tales.
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on December 3, 2009
Some of the poetry seems to be missing from the work, it really bothers me. You're better off to buy a copy than use this free one.
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on December 21, 2009
The poems are missing from the book, which makes it an incomplete work. Sometimes, I guess you get what you pay for.
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on July 6, 2010
I was very disappointed to discover that this version of the book is missing pretty much all the poetry. The songs are shortened and details are left out. I advise purchasing the book rather than downloading the free version. This is one of my favorite books from my childhood and I sorely missed "The Walrus and the Carpenter". Not to mention the loss of the Jaberwocky. On a side note- I'd forgotten that the many Alice in Wonderland movies often combined the two books.
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VINE VOICEon June 6, 2010
So, what's a 47 year old doing reviewing a classic children's book? Well, it occurred to me as I was looking through the available books on my Kindle, that many of the free ones (yes I'm quite open to free as an option) that there were many books that I assumed I knew because I had seen movies, seen summarized in some other form or simply because they were cultural icons and "everybody" knows these books.

Many I have indeed read and did read as I was younger. However, now with a Kindle and a commute, it seemed a perfect opportunity to address some of those elements lacking in my basic reading. It was in this spirit that I down loaded Alice's adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and read through it is a remarkably short period of time. Many of these free books on the Kindle, are in the public domain and have been available in text or PDF files for quite some time. A simple conversion in format is all that is required to make it available. The question I asked as I read the book, is does the experience of reading it in this format take away anything from the experience. Children's Literature in particular is often about more than just the words on a page. Of course there are often illustrations, the physical book itself takes on dimensions that are bigger than usual. This adds to the experience of a child reading the book by themselves but in particular it adds to the experience of a child being read to who can then sit in a lap or look as the book as presented and share in the experience by learning to read or reinforcing reading skills.

So, for a aging kid who needs something to read to round out his cultural iconic missing links this worked just fine. However, for those seeking to have an experience with their kids in reading a classic piece of literature, I'd not recommend it in that venue.

As to the story itself, there's little I can say. In some ways, it's like reading a familiar story but in others it's amazing how much can be lost or glossed over in the pop-cultural offerings that sprang from it. Reading this piece of classic literature gives you some insight not only into the time it came from, but also into the heart of childhood that is timeless and can be recaptured at least in part, if we'll pause and exercise our imagination.

4 stars. Absolutely 5 stars as far as the story goes. Because this specifically addresses the Kindle edition, a drop of a star so that any considering reading this to their children from a kindle, consider what might be lost by not obtaining a more traditional copy complete with illustrations and the opportunity to share at a level one notch above what the Kindle offers in this context.

Perhaps something like this Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Take some time and look for what will work best for you and your intended audience.

bart breen
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on September 19, 2010
"What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?" Someone might have thought to ask that of the compilers of this Kindle edition, which lacks any of the famed Tenniel illustrations, even though they're all in the public domain and have been made available in many on-line versions. Worse, the compilers also omit Carroll's opening poem, "All in the golden afternoon," even though it's an integral part of the book. One gets the feeling that the goal was to not make the free version truly complete, so that one would have to wind up purchasing one of the non-free editions for one's Kindle -- which is probably a better solution from the outset.
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on March 10, 2015
This is a great classic! Children and adults have loved this book as it has many layers and meanings. I love reading it over and over, always getting something new and different each time. I think everyone can enjoy this book; kids and adults. The meaning one retrieves from this classic depends on what path or where one is on their individual journey in life.
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on May 26, 2009
I forgot how wonderful a tale this is. It is written so well that the images almost jump off the page. Even as an adult I couldn't help but to fall under Carroll's spell.
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on March 10, 2010
This threadbare bargain-priced edition may seem like a deal, but consider before purchasing that it has no table of contents, no introduction, no forward, no illustrations, and no bibliography. Adding insult to injury, the layout of this edition is easily one the worst ever for a reprint, with all words that originally appeared in italics for emphasis printed here in big block caps, as if the typesetting was done by an abrasive kid trying to get attention in an on line chat...IF YOU GET WHAT I MEAN.

If you really want to explore and experience Lewis Carroll's classic, get The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition -- for the price on Amazon, it's the real bargain. I also highly recommend Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland. Both of these books are a must for serious Alice fans as well as those just getting into Carroll's classic.
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