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Alice Through the Looking Glass by Emma Chichester Clark

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As a child, I found the Alice stories weird and a bit dark. Helena Bonham Carter in book form, perhaps. Not for everyone, no matter how many times the word Classic was bandied around, identifying them as a Very Good Thing that everyone should have read. If this was your experience of the original Lewis Carroll, then put those thoughts to one side for a moment and let me tell you about this book. It’s the original story, re-told and re-illustrated, and what a difference it makes.

Alice Through the Looking Glass by Emma Chichester Clark

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Category: Emerging Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A new update to the classic with modern illustrations, this is a happier book than the dark original, in our minds.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 48 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007425082

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In the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the season has changed. It’s now a cold, frosty winter, not warm, outdoor weather like the earlier book. Alice is playing with her kitten and as they look together into a big old mirror, she realises she can step through the glass, into a topsy-turvey world where everything is upside and down and back to front. Through she goes, into a land of characters that are even curiouser than before. The Red Queen and the White Queen are joined by Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Walrus and the Carpenter and many more besides for an adventure that makes absolutely no sense but nonetheless captures your attention.

This updated version is still the story you will be familiar with, with the original poems slotted in. I actually find them a little distracting as they break up the narrative, but that’s a personal preference. The big difference in this copy is the presentation, which bring Alice into the 21st Century. Now she’s a brunette with a choppy bob, a pretty dress with a geometric design and snazzy red ballet flats. It’s a modern re-telling, but in just the right ways to make it appealing to those currently in primary school and they knew when to stop. After all, they’ve not sacked off the original title in favour of a frankly hideous Alice Through The Mirror or anything like that.

This is still a crazy, illogical, unpredictable story but I appreciated different things about this book as an adult compared to when I originally read the story. For example the line The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday but never jam today! made me laugh this time around, whereas before it simply left me puzzled. Ditto the sentence Hand it out first and cut it afterwards in reference to Looking Glass cakes. It’s almost as if any adult can read this book, but you have to be the right kind of child to read it at a younger age, and I was not that kind of child. I liked logic and order and things that made sense, and the prettiest illustrations in the world cannot make up for that.

This is a picture book in size and design, but approaching a chapter book in terms of content. It’s a long story – it might even be too much for a quick bedtime read – if you read every word rather than picking out bits and concentrating on looking at the lovely pictures instead, but it’s more accessible than the original version, I think. It’s bright and colourful and the illustrations really show clearly what the text is telling you.

This is a valuable update to the Classic. Yup, I used that word. I enjoyed it a lot more now than previously, in part because I can deal with the inconsistencies now, but mostly because it’s such a beautiful book that makes you want to read it, and for that reason alone it is highly recommended.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

The Walrus and the Carpenter and Other Favourite Poems by Children's Trust introduces those characters first, and is sold in aid of a good cause. You have to get it.

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Buy Alice Through the Looking Glass by Emma Chichester Clark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Alice Through the Looking Glass by Emma Chichester Clark at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Alice Through the Looking Glass by Emma Chichester Clark at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Alice Through the Looking Glass by Emma Chichester Clark at


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