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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Exposes kids to wordplay, crazy riddles, and nonsense poetry, as well as Victorian language and customs and a little French.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is more nonsense and dreamscape than moral lesson. But it does imply the advice to, when in crazy, confusing, or challenging situations, try to keep your head (even when someone is constantly yelling "Off with her head!") and not be intimidated by outrageous characters who are insulting and threatening you and causing you trouble. In short: Roll with the punches.
Positive Role Models
Alice is polite, friendly, open-minded, and resilient as she navigates the chaotic world in which she's landed. She encounters all sorts of characters, some of whom are confusing, such as the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the Cheshire Cat, and some are mean, such as the Queen of Hearts.
Violence & Scariness
The Queen of Hearts frequently shouts "Off with his head!" and "Off with her head!" She orders the execution of the Cheshire Cat and threatens the Duchess and Alice with execution. The Duchess' cook throws dishes.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A blue caterpillar smokes a hookah.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that constantly changing predicaments, strange creatures, and the watercolors are very child-friendly. But difficult language, Carroll's nonsense poems, and adult humor will leave some children bored or confused. Still, it's a classic well worth the trouble and particularly fun as a read-aloud.
Is It Any Good?
Though there are many video versions and a lot of simplified retellings of this story, all kids deserve to know this wonderful adventure as Lewis Carroll wrote it. But it takes a particular kind of child to enjoy this: Complex language, nonsense, and the lack of a sensible plot are not to every child's taste. The book needs to be thoughtfully read aloud by an adult; few children will read this on their own. But, read aloud, the rhythmic poems can delight kids for their sounds and silly images.
The book works on two levels: as a delightful children's fantasy and as an impish poke in the eye to adults. Alice's strange new world remains just enough like the polite society of Victorian England that we can recognize it -- but it isn't terribly polite, allowing adults to understand much of the book as satire. Of course, kids usually don't see the satire; they simply enjoy the nonsense. If you've forgotten how to do that, Alice can help you remember.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.