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The Looking Glass Wars, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Forget what you thought you knew about Alice and Wonderland -- this book purports to tell the truth behind the fairy tale.
Alyss, princess of the Queendom of Wonderland, barely escapes with her life when her Aunt Redd kills her parents in a bloody coup. Pursued by The Cat, an assassin created by Redd (a witch-like practitioner of Black Imagination), Alyss jumps through the Pool of Tears and ends up in Victorian London, where, after living as a street urchin and in an orphanage, she's adopted by the Liddell family of Oxford. \
\ Frustrated that no one will believe the story of her past, she's at first thrilled when family friend Charles Dodgson seems to believe her. But when he turns it into a fairy tale, she's devastated and resolves to forget Wonderland and assimilate as a normal British person. Eventually she grows up and forgets about Wonderland, or sees it only as a childish fantasy. But back in Wonderland her persecuted followers, the Alyssians, take up a guerrilla resistance to the harsh rule of Queen Redd.
Is it any good?
A sea-change is happening in children's book publishing, taking nearly a decade to come to its logical culmination in this book. Written by a movie producer, plotted and paced like a movie, and promoted like one too, THE LOOKING GLASS WARS is a book designed for one thing -- to grab kids by the seat of the pants and keep them excitedly turning the pages. It accomplishes its goal with verve and imagination.
Alice in Wonderland purists shouldn't even open the book -- this isn't for them. The Wonderland depicted here is both more horrific and more exciting than the surreal place Carroll imagined. Filled with monsters, magic, and a mixture of technologies, it's at once more fantastic and more grounded in the reality of war and totalitarian repression than its predecessor. Though The Looking Glass Wars is filled with topics for discussion (from literature to politics, history, and biography) and includes many parallels to events in today's world, this story is essentially fun -- well-written, well-constructed, lovingly thought-out and produced fun. It will do no harm at all to Carroll's classic -- which has always held more appeal for adults than children anyway -- and may interest a new generation of readers in the original.