Category Archives: Alice in Wonderland

Harvard Library Presents “Alice in Wonderland” Online Exhibition

In the 150 years since the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll’s story has become more than a literary classic; it is part of our collective cultural imagination. Its illustrations, originally conceived by Carroll, realized by John Tenniel, and reinterpreted by hundreds of artists, are instantly recognizable; its nonsense songs and memorable lines are frequently quoted and repurposed by countless admirers.

This exhibition explores the incredible influence the book has achieved, through Houghton Library’s rich collection of Carrolliana, compiled principally by Harcourt Amory (Harvard 1876) and given to Harvard by his widow and children in 1927.

So don’t be late! Venture again through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole, along to the mad tea party and the queen’s croquet ground. Please try to keep your head, and don’t seek to find a moral anywhere. As Alice herself discovered, the evidence is clear:

“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” [said the Cheshire Cat].

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Cheshire Cat

Down the Rabbit Hole at Houghton

Alice 150: www.alice150.com

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Add the Arts to the STEM Curriculum and Unleash the Full Power of STEAM

This year as Lewis Carroll fans worldwide celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I was privileged to attend a presentation by sculptor Bridgette Mongeon at the spring meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America (LCSNA), held at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, in conjunction with the Center’s special Alice exhibition.

"Move One Place On" -- Copyright Bridgette Mongeon 2015

“Move One Place On” — Copyright Bridgette Mongeon 2015

Bridgette, an artist, sculptor, writer, educator, public speaker, and wife and mom too, has been commissioned to create a monumental bronze sculpture of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter tea party, to be placed in a Texas park (the exact site has yet to be announced). Visitors will be able to not only admire the sculpture, but also sit themselves down to it and have a picnic lunch with Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, and the Hatter, as shown in the above digital model.

In her talk to the LCSNA, Bridgette spoke of the STEM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, and math) and how vital it is to add an “A” for art, which turns STEM into STEAM. She has given STEAM programs to young women in grades 6 through 8, in which she ties it all together: Art, Technology, Medicine, Math, AND Literature. Bridgette creatively fuses art and technology: she creates sculptures using both traditional (clay and wax) and digital processes. Lewis Carroll fits well with Bridgette’s many interests because he was an artist and photographer, a mathematician, and, of course, a writer.

I was fascinated and inspired by Bridgette’s LCSNA presentation. In my freelance work as an editor for a national educational organization, I specialize in STEM and STEAM subjects. I’ve edited manuscripts on animation, archaeology, architecture, energy, environmental science, oceanography, photography, textiles, and theater, among others. Even the most technological subjects need the “A” added for “art.” Art imparts the human touch and often creates a fresh perspective that can lead to new discoveries.

Bridgette cited the example of an artist who sculpted her cancer tumor, and how the creation of “a full-on object that they could walk around” is changing the way oncologists approach the treatment of cancer.

I was also reminded of astrophysicists’ reactions to the computer-generated black hole in the movie Interstellar. Actual observational data was used to create the movie’s visualizations, leading physicist Kip Thorne to realize: “Why, of course. That’s what it would do.” From the art, he got something he didn’t expect: a scientific discovery.

With arts programs on the chopping blocks at too many schools, we all need to be championing STEAM. While the current emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math is very welcome, we must also keep a central place in the curriculum for art. While science and technology may reveal the structure of things, art reveals the heart.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: Alice150 Exhibit at Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas

On Saturday, April 18, I had the great pleasure of seeing the “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, as part of the spring meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. The exhibition (#aliceinaustin) is wonderfully done, tracing this classic tale from its inspiration, little Alice Liddell, on through 150 years of translation, interpretation, adaptation, and illustration.

Alice150LogoHere are a few photos from my visit, but I highly recommend that you make the trip yourself. Alice is on view at the Ransom Center through July 6, 2015. To see what other events are happening this year as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, go to www.Alice150.com.

Ransom banners

At the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas, through July 6, 2015

Deborah J Lightfoot with Alice

I’m helping Alice fend off the cards!

Alice popup_best

I love pop-up books, so I was drooling over an entire display case full of them.

Alice translations

Alice in Wonderland has been translated into a staggering number of languages.

Ransom brochure

The exhibition guide/brochure is a keeper. When I’m done showing it around, I’ll be slipping it inside my copy of Martin Gardner’s “The Annotated Alice” to save it for posterity.

While rabbit

“Oh my ears and whiskers. I’m late! I’m late!” I’m nearly a week late getting this posted, but you still have time to take in the Alice exhibit at the Ransom Center, through July 6.

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The “Alice” Books and Waterspell: How They Connect

Writers are often told to write what we know. Thus, it is not surprising that many authors choose to write about books and the people who love them.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak tells of a girl who steals the things she can’t resist—books. The hero of Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story becomes a character in the mysterious book he is reading. In When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, the protagonist relies upon her favorite book, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, as a kind of “life compass.”

Pool of TearsFollowing in that tradition, Lewis Carroll’s Alice books appear “as themselves” in my Waterspell trilogy. My heroine, Carin, first encounters Through the Looking-Glass (TTLG) and discovers the book holds within it a powerful weapon that only she can wield. Later, Carin gets her hands on a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (AAIW) and continues to find veiled connections between the Carrollian world and her own perilous situation.

As an enthusiastic fan of Martin Gardner’s The Annotated Alice, I like to imagine how the late Mr. Gardner might annotate the Waterspell trilogy as he picked up on my novels’ subtle homages to the Alice books. I think he would remark on the reversed order in which Carin encounters the books. Lewis Carroll wrote AAIW first, then TTLG some years later. Throughout TTLG, things “go the other way,” so it is appropriate (as well as necessary to the plot of Waterspell) that Carin reads the books “the other way”—second book first.

Another play on the “other way” can be seen in the spelling of the names of the two leading ladies. “Alice” is vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel, while “Carin” (also five letters) is consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant.

The names of things are important in the Waterspell trilogy. In AAIW, the dormouse speaks of drawing all manner of things that begin with the letter M. I don’t doubt that Martin Gardner would notice the characters in Waterspell whose names start, like his, with M: among them Myra, Megella, and Merriam.

And on it goes. In Waterspell Book 3: The Wisewoman, Carin is required to travel under an alias. What name does she choose for herself? “Alice,” of course.

In no way, however, are the Waterspell novels a retelling of the Alice books. Though there are analogies—Carin’s reflective “mirror pool” recalls Alice’s looking-glass—my story follows its own unique trajectory.

To capture the gist of Waterspell, one might say it’s “Jane Eyre meets a sorcerer.” The relationship between my main characters is reminiscent of the stormy sparring between Jane and Rochester. Waterspell is a story for young adults and older. Though an Alice motif runs deep in my trilogy, Waterspell is no more a “children’s book” than is The Hunger Games or Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels, His Dark Materials. My characters encounter great danger, violence, murder, and betrayal.

Alice150LogoWriting this blog post has helped me pull my thoughts together as I prepare to attend the April 18 meeting of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America in Austin, Texas. In the company of fellow Carrollians, I might have occasion to explain how my books connect to Alice. I want to be prepared, for I can think of no more appropriate readers than a group of Lewis Carroll enthusiasts who know the Alice books backwards and forwards. (There’s that reversal theme again!)

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Waterspell trilogy by Deborah J Lightfoot

“If you like epic fantasy that sweeps you to amazing, immersive worlds and while following intriguing characters, be sure to add this series to your to-read list.” —Once Upon a YA Book

“Keeps you enthralled until the final sentence. Carin and Verek are such rounded and full characters.” —Kim Durbin

“I really loved the main characters, particularly because they are complicated. I also enjoyed the writing. It is stylized perfectly to the story, so you feel you are in the Waterspell world. I definitely recommend these books!” —Beck Digs It

“I was hooked instantly when I started reading [Waterspell Book 1] The Warlock. I willingly gave up sleep and honestly could not wait to get up to read more of this book. I’m reading the whole series, and I absolutely am loving it.” —Sarah

“… a fabulous trilogy that should be read by every fantasy reader who would like something a little different. The author cleverly creates tension without resorting to the battles, complex political intrigue and predictable structure favoured by many in the traditional fantasy genre. I give it 5 stars without hesitation.” —Tahlia Newland

“The writing is absolutely fantastic with so much detail and description. The imagery was so vivid that I felt like I could see this mystical world forming around me.” —Laura Hartley, “What’s Hot?”

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Major Lewis Carroll Exhibition at Austin, Texas

Alice in Wonderland 150th Anniversary

The Waterspell fantasy trilogy has a unique “Alice” connection. Do you see how the red and gold colors of “The Annotated Alice” are repeated in the cover of Waterspell Book 1? There’s a reason for it.

The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas is celebrating 150 years of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with an exhibition for the curious and curiouser of all ages.

Learn about Lewis Carroll and the real Alice who inspired his story. See one of the few surviving copies of the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Discover the rich array of personal and literary references that Carroll incorporated throughout Alice. Explore the surprising transformations of Alice and her story as they have traveled through time and across continents. Follow the White Rabbit’s path through the exhibition, have a tea party, or watch a 1933 paper filmstrip that has been carefully treated by Ransom Center conservators. The Center’s vast collections offer a new look at a story that has delighted generations and inspired artists from Salvador Dalí to Walt Disney.

From February 10 through July 6, the exhibition can be seen in the Ransom Center galleries, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with extended Thursday hours until 7 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays the galleries are open from noon to 5 p.m.

View a VIDEO PREVIEW of the exhibition.

Harry Ransom Center
21st and Guadalupe Streets
Austin, Texas

Street Address
Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
300 West 21st Street
Austin, Texas 78712
Phone: 512-471-8944

About the Harry Ransom Center
The Harry Ransom Center, a world-renowned humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, houses extensive collections of literature, film, art, photography, and the performing arts.

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Alice in Wonderland 150th Anniversary

Pool of TearsHappy New Year!

In 2015 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Alice in Wonderland books. Many celebrations are planned worldwide, and I will be participating in my own way too, because of the Waterspell trilogy’s Through the Looking-Glass connection and simply because I’m a lifelong Alice fan.

For starters, here’s a link to the 2015 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 150th Anniversary Events page. There you will find information about 102 events in 10 countries.

Closest to home for me, the Lewis Carroll Society of North America (LCSNA) will hold its spring meeting at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. The Ransom Center is hosting an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland exhibition based on the center’s extensive collections of art, photography, rare books, performing arts, films, and manuscripts. The LCSNA will meet there on April 18, 2015.

All this year, I’ll be blogging occasionally (my blogging is haphazard at best) to bring you updates and information about events of interest. Now is a great time to dust off your old copy of the Alice books and return to Wonderland. And while you’re at it, dive into the Alice-connected and critically acclaimed world of Waterspell.

Happy New Year and happy reading!


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“If you like epic fantasy that sweeps you to amazing, immersive worlds and while following intriguing characters, be sure to add this series [Waterspell] to your to-read list.” Once Upon a YA Book

“Wonderfully written. I was hooked right away and loved that I couldn’t predict what was to come next. 5 out of 5 stars! Highly recommend to young adults and older.” Memories Overtaking Me

“This is Young Adult in age, but Epic in Fantasy … Imaginative, exciting, plenty of action, and an ending that will leave you satisfied.” A Life Through Books

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