Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Alice Through the Looking-Glass

Alice Through the Looking-Glass

Lewis Carroll
Illustrator:   Helen Oxenbury 
For ages 8 to 12
Candlewick, 2005   ISBN: 0763628921

Alice is sitting in the drawing room playing with Dinah’s kittens and musing about things. She is very much the kind of girl who likes to muse about this and that, about here and there, and sometimes her musing become rather peculiar. On this particular day she begins to wonder about the mirror drawing room, in other words the room that is on the other side of the mirror. Would everything in the Looking Glass House be the same as it is in her house?

Then Alice begins to pretend that, if she wants to, she could climb right through the looking glass and into the house beyond. Before she quite knows what is happening Alice has done exactly this and she is standing in the room on the other side of the mirror. At first it looks very much like the room she just left but then she begins to notice differences. For one thing, the chess pieces are walking about down on the floor. In addition the words in the books are all backward mirror images. Indeed, many things in this odd world are backwards.

For example Alice learns that if she wants to get someplace she has to walk as slowly as possible. If she runs fast she just stays in one spot. Alice becomes even more confused when she discovers that this world that she has walked into seems to be one great big chess board. In different squares Alice meets different and highly peculiar characters who seem to be playing a game of chess with one another but then at the same time they don’t seem to be doing anything that makes much sense. There is the white knight who cannot stay on his horse; there are Tweedledee and Tweedledum who insist that they have to fight a battle; there is Humpty Dumpty who falls off his wall; and all the way through Alice is making baby steps towards the time and place when she will be crowned queen.

Helen Oxenbury has superbly illustrated Lewis Carroll’s classic nonsensical story. She has created warm color illustrations, scenes rendered in dark pencil, and combinations of the two. Readers will find their heads spinning and their funny bone being tickled as they hop from square to square with Alice.