Katherine Rundell chooses the ‘funny and unwieldy and peppery and sharp and wise’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
This is one of my favourite opening lines: ‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?” Oh, how I wish I’d written Alice in Wonderland. It’s a book that is so perfect it makes me giddy – it’s so funny and unwieldy and peppery and sharp and wise. Alice herself is much more intellectually ambitious and troublesome than the Alice of the (albeit wonderful) Disney film, and I have always thought her one of the greatest heroes in literature; she is curiosity incarnate. The Red Queen’s court is pure anarchy, and there is such glee in its rejection of logic, and in the White Rabbit’s hurried courtesy. But most of all, I love the language of the book and its uncompromising wit; I love that Carroll did not believe in talking down to children, but in facing them squarely on with a book as chaotic and beautiful as the world itself.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (978-1-4472-7308-0) by Lewis Carroll, illus John Tenniel, is published by Macmillan Children’s Books, £10.99
Katherine Rundell’s book The Wolf Wilder is now available in paperback (Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 978-1-4088-5485-3, £7.99 pbk).