Whatever Happened to Wonderland?
The author explains how J.M. Barrie and Lewis Carroll were both still childlike in their own way, which allowed them to write books full of magic. Barrie, she explains, still played pirates at the age of 40 and Carroll, hoping to keep them from growing up, photographed children. Despite the controversy surrounding their relationships with children, each author's ability to connect to an uninhibited imagination allowed them to write stories perfect for children.
In my career as an educator I have seen some children who have grown up too fast. They have lived through tragedies such as abuse, neglect, or separation from parents. They have seen how drugs and alcohol can destroy a family. They know that poverty can shake the world underneath them with as much power as any earthquake. And then I meet students like Terryn. He was a 5 year old boy at one of the summer camps where I worked this summer. Terryn had long, scraggly, dirty blond hair. His face was often smudged with dirt from a mud pie or a romp through the yard. He showed up one day wearing rain boots, shorts, an old shirt, and a pirate hat. Just because. Terryn could talk to wolves (two different dialects for grey wolves and black wolves) and knew the potential of an old kitchen appliance. "If I could pick one kid in the world to be a Lost Boy," I explained to my friend at lunch today, "I would pick Terryn. I don't think he should ever grow up."
Do these children, the heart-broken, resilient ones and the free-spirited magic makers, deserve books that will allow them to escape or ones that will connect them to reality? Do different children need different books? Should we offer them hope that things will change and a place to find courage and strength? Or the comfort of knowing that they aren't the only ones with trouble?
I don't know. But I know that Alice, Ever After will be a place where all kids can feel like they can make a world for themselves. Where they can escape for a brief second if that is what they need or where they can find hope in a character who overcame great adversity. After reading this article I felt charged, more than ever, to make sure that this dream of mine comes true so that kids everywhere can keep theirs alive for as long as the need them.