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WONDERLAND

The Book That Changed Me

By TANIKA SMITH WHEATLEYPublished 6 months ago 4 min read
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For Our Book Club

For my seventh birthday my parents gave me the Lewis Carroll books and I have been a Lewis Carroll fan ever since and in turn, I have been giving these books to other children of the family to enjoy, when they are on the brink of learning to read. The stories opened my mind to a myriad of possibilities, and I knew that they would do the same for them...

The Book That Changed Me (for our book club)

or rather, My Clever Parents, and The Books That Opened My Mind, and Broadened My Horizons

WONDERLAND

“Oh, look,” I happily exclaimed to my friend, we were in a toy shop looking for a gift for her niece, “a collection of the Lewis Carroll Books beautifully bound and boxed together with a special lock and key to open the exquisite antique case to Wonderland…” I thought of my own collection, that was still my favorite possession, “the perfect gift…”

My friend shook her head. “My niece is only five years old, she can’t read yet…”

“But she will be learning the alphabet and how to read and write now that she’s started school…”

“At that age, she’s too young to understand such a…” she paused, thinking of how to describe the collection.

“Myriad of magical and mystical adventures?” I prompted her, remembering how I was given the books when learning the alphabet and how to read and write.

She looked surprised. “I was about to say over-dramatic, excessively complicated detritus works of a lunatic…”

My enthusiasm evaporated. How differently two people see things – until now, it had never occurred to me that others might consider wondrous writings of wonderland to be wretched. Two people who were best friends because they had so much in common. I gasped. “You think Lewis Carroll was…insane?”

“Yes, of course – don’t you?”

I wanted to shake my head, but I was still in a state of shock. The possibility had never occurred to me.

“We had to study his works at school,” she continued, “and everyone came to the same conclusion, he should have been institutionalized…”

“Institutionalized?”

She nodded. “We were surprised that he hadn’t been burned at the stake, as so many were, for less, in those days…”

“Burned at the stake?”

She looked at me in surprise. “You…disagree?”

“They’re…they’re just stories!” I blurted out, I had always thought, written by a brilliant brain…

“You must admit,” she looked at me as though I might also be insane, “falling into other places…”

Other dimensions, I thought…

“With a crazy pack of cards…” she went on…

I thought back to how at the time I was given the books, my parents had a magic show, my father was a magician, and did amazing things with a pack of cards, cards, he taught me, that all had their own place, their own purpose, and when you understand them, you knew how to supposedly shuffle them when in actual fact you were just putting them all back where they belonged, to seem so magical, even win with tricks at games of cards…

“And the joker,” she continued, “he isn’t funny, at all…”

But there has to be one that is different, I wanted to tell her but she wouldn’t stop talking, otherwise the game of life would be boring…

She shook her head in exasperation, “and that idiotic tea party…?!?”

To show that all different characters can get along, but still, she won’t pause, and I still can’t say, something us humans should learn to do…

“And what is the purpose of the stupid cat?”

Wise cat, I had thought…

“And Alice growing so huge, then so tiny?”

That’s her confidence, I wanted to scream at her…

“And the rabbit…”

Representing our instincts, I wanted to yell, and what happens when we ignore them or follow them…

“With a clock…”

Time is important, otherwise we could miss out on amazing, maybe even wondrously unbelievable opportunities…

She finally stopped. But I finally stopped attempting to interrupt and explain the characters and story. At seven years of age, all the lessons in the stories had been blatantly obvious to me. If she had studied the author and his works and still had not understood his writings, then I decided, that I wasn’t going to attempt explaining them to her. I put what I believed to be educational books back on the shop shelf where they’d been. With her lack of enthusiasm for the master writer, her niece would probably feel the same way. What a shame.

She finally grabbed a ‘coloring in’ book and crayons for the five-year-old. I remember losing interest in coloring other people’s drawings at three and painting my own drawings at four, but I didn’t say anything, and watched her buy the useless gift.

“I can’t believe you actually liked those silly stories,” she said to me as we left the shop.

I thought of the collection, one of my ‘pride and joy’s’, that I still had on my bookshelves at home. “Oh, not only liked,” I can be sarcastic when warranted, “I would have been proud to have been burned at the stake alongside the author…”

END

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About the Creator

TANIKA SMITH WHEATLEY

When I was a child, I would wake up in the night because of nightmares. As time went on, I realized that I was looking forward to my dreams. Now, I write them, among other stories as well.....

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