The Looking Glass Wars
by Frank Beddor
And now to the other book for sixth grade book club this month...
Strange as it may seem, each of the sixth grade book selections for the month paid homage to Alice in Wonderland. My last post was about Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins, a novel inspired by Lewis Carroll's classic. Frank Beddor has created a novel that asks us to consider that Alyss, we have been spelling her name wrong, is a true creature of Wonderland.
We first meet Alyss at her 7th birthday celebration. She is the heir to the throne, but is driven away from Wonderland as she flees from her murderous Aunt Redd. With the knowledge that her parents are dead, she emerges from the portal she escaped with into Victorian London. She falls in briefly with a motley crew of orphan's, Dickens anyone, but is quickly captured and sent to a proper orphanage. She is adopted by a minister and moves to the country. She is considered by everyone to be mad as she tells the story of her home and her ordeal. One day, she shares her adventures with Charles Dodgson (aka Carroll). He is fascinated by the tale and promises to tell her story. He writes a book, weaving in the details of "Alice's" past, but, as you may recall, it is filled with rabbit holes, tea parties and magic potions.
After reading the book, Alyss understands that Dodgson doesn't really believe her story. Frustrated, she decides to comply to the expectations of her new life, refusing to talk about her past. Eventually, she begins to doubt that Wonderland exists. She slowly melds into her new life, until it comes back to claim her. Aunt Redd is intent on killing Alyss. She sends her greatest fighter, known as "the Cat", to kill her in the other realm. Instead, Alyss makes her way back through the portal to fight for her throne.
I liked the story. I mostly liked that the Queen's power came from her ability to be wildly imaginative. If she could image something, it could become so. It will be that imagination that saves her life and Wonderland. If your reader enjoys this novel and/or Gregor the Overlander, it may be time for them to try the original.