Monday, April 7, 2008

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Source: Storynory
Length: Approx 3.6 hours
Reader: Natasha

The book:
The basic plot of Alice in Wonderland should be familiar to everyone: young Alice, while reading underneath a tree, is distracted by a white rabbit rushing by while looking at his pocketwatch and muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Alice follows him down a rabbit hole and proceeds to have a number of bizarre encounters with talking animals and playing-card royalty.

Although I've grown up watching the Disney animated movie, I found the book very interesting not only as a comparison between the book and movie, but also from the perspective of an adult reading a children's book. Lewis plays on puns, literal illustrations of idioms, and parodies of poems. For an American in the 21st century, unraveling these jokes can require an annotated edition of the book, even if one is a fairly well-educated person. I would never expect a child to have heard of the expression "mad as a March hare", or know what Turtle Soup is, or be able to recite "Thou art old, Father William."

Would a child still find this book funny? I'm not sure. From my own experience looking back at how many jokes from Sesame Street or The Flintstones went over my head, I'd like to think that if the story and characters are entertaining, as they are here, then the individual jokes don't matter so much.

Rating: 7/10

The reader: Natasha of Storynory lends the art of a storyteller to his reading. Her narraration is in a sing-song American pronunciation, but she drops into a variety of animal voices and silly accents for the dialog. It's an impressive performance, especially considering the number of characters that Alice meets during her adventures. The recording is clear and easy to understand. The download page requires you to go to each post and download the files separately and there is no standard naming convention for the files. In chapter 4, Natasha experiments with some canned sound effects, but the result is distracting and she wisely discards the noises in later chapters. Apart from this, the reading is one that will appeal to both children and adults who love fun voices.

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