Beddor, F. (2006). The Looking Glass Wars. New York, NY: Dial Books.
Plot Summary: This book follows the story of Alyss the princess of wonderland as she is forced to flee her home and ends up in our world. The story begins by explaining what happened to her during her time in our world while also describing what the terrible red queen is doing in her absence. When she is finally brought back to wonderland she must learn to use her powers of imagination again to save wonderland and take her rightful place on the throne. While at the end of the book she is able to defeat the red queen she is worried she will find a way back into wonderland and has a lot of work to do rebuilding wonderland.
Critical Evaluation: The story follows two timelines one that follows Alyss while she is in our world and another that follows the characters who are standing up against the red queen. This could potentially be confusing for some readers so there is a clearly drawn out timeline of events in both worlds that shows what is happening in both worlds. This timeline also fills in some gaps about when exactly things that were referenced but not fully explained happened in Wonderland and connects larger world events like the Battle of Gettysburg in the context of what is happening in the book. This combination of real world events and the fictional story is also used in bringing the real Alice Liddell who inspired Charles Dodgson to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland into the story. This mix of reality and fiction is really well done and makes this a unique retelling of Alice’s story and really sets the tone of the book as overall being very somber. Frank Beddor is equally creative in describing the fictional and non-fictional aspects of the story which gives the writing a lot of depth. This mix of fact and fiction is also interesting as it creates some foreshadowing throughout the first parts of the story. Readers know Alyss will eventually become Alice Liddell and meet Charles Dodgson and the book builds the suspense of how this will come to pass well. Overall this is a very creative and well written book.
Reader’s Annotation: This is the first book in the looking glass wars series and it explains how Alyss princess of wonderland became Alice in Wonderland.
Author Information: Frank Beddor has written the looking glass wars trilogy and co-authored a spin off graphic novels following the the adventures of Hatter Madigan. Prior to writing he worked as an actor and stunt double.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) How does this book tie in the story of Alice in Wonderland?
2) How is this series similar to other books that retell fairy tales and what differentiates it from other books in this trend?
Reading Level & Interest Level: The age range for this book is listed as 12-17 which seems fitting. It is popular with both older middle grade readers and teens.
Challenge Issues: There are some elements to the story that may be a little dark or violent for some readers. However, the book avoids being graphic and has a positive message about rising to the challenges life gives you.
Why is it included?: This is the first book in the looking glass wars trilogy that has been popular for a while now. It fits with the trend of fairytale retellings though it is not a retold fairytale. It also fits in with the popularity of shows like Once Upon a Time which had an Alice in Wonderland Spinoff.