Alice in Wonderland: The Ultimate Self Help Book

"Drink me"

Fairies. Fairy tales. Stories. The Tim Burton movie Alice in Wonderland opens this week. I am usually a “wait til the DVD comes out” kind of gal, but I can hardly wait to see this movie!

I read Alice when I was eight years old and have used it as a reference guide my entire life. The alternate world created by Lewis Carroll has served me well as a sort of handbook to explain the vicissitudes of life.

I have always been able to relate to this picture

When I am dealing with difficult or incomprehensible situations, I think to myself. “I have simply fallen down another rabbit hole”  or “uh oh, I have wandered through the looking glass” and I look for the clues that will lead me out again. I can’t even list the number of times I have stood with a frozen smile on my face listening to someone who seems to be speaking jabberwocky.

Life, it turns out, is populated with red queens.

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. We all know this person, don't we?

They all seem to wield enormous egos and having read Alice in Wonderland at such a tender age, I have always approached these individuals with a cheerful sort of cunning and my inner, instinctive reverse psychology that can be learned between the pages of Lewis Carroll’s funny, twisted, wickedly insightful books.

A.S. Byatt (who is completely brilliant and who is my writing hero and who I don’t even TRY to emulate) says it best in this article which is also a wonderful resource guide for young parents on the brink of guiding their children into a reading life. Her assessment of Alice also seems to suggest that this is a guidebook for life:

As she falls through the earth she doesn’t feel terror, she thinks, she talks to herself and analyses what is happening and may happen. She is prepared to give as good as she gets in arguments with pigeons, caterpillars, frog footmen, smiling cats and red and white queens. Her main emotion is trying to make sense against increasing odds.”

And isn’t that the very best life lesson of all?

Ah! The tea party ...

The Secret Fairy Society Valentine’s Day Edition is now on Toadstools Across the Glen!!!

Just as sooner follows soon, those silly fairies left their Valentine’s Day missive under my hydrangea bush and here it is – (blown up of course)  to read and enjoy!


Good News!! The Secret Fairy Society Newsletter Valentine’s Edition Coming Soon!

The wee, wickedly fun editors of the Secret Fairy Society Newsletter will be flitting by soon!

Valentine Valkyrie Fairy - Brunhilda

The Secret Fairy Society Annual Christmas Newsletter

Some instruction for those of you new to the newsletter:

This is the actual size - but I have enlarged it for you humans

Fairies tell time in “SOONTIME”. Everything will be soon, sooner, soonest, sooner rather than later, pretty soon, soon enough, kind of soon, real soon, as soon as possible, and as soon as necessary. The days of the week are Soonday, Moonday, Toosoonday, Wooday (this is the day most Fairies become engaged,)  Fromday, Humday (Fairies love to sing) and Someday. This will aid you in figuring out when things happen in Fairyland.

Well, here it is! Merry Christmas!!

The Children’s Book – Not Just for Kids Anymore


I think a truly great book is one you can re-read and enjoy as much the second time as you did the first. I don’t re-read many books because there are so many new books to read. I feel I should spend my reading time reading new novels and biographies. Sometimes, it seems there is a dearth of new material and I flop around, fish out of water like, wanting a book that gave me the same expereince as such and such a book. It was during one of these unsettled in-between-a-good-book times I re-read ‘Possession’ by A.S. Byatt. It was every bit as satisfying as if reading it for the first time. 

Byatt’s novels can be very challenging. I have to admit, I have not read all of them. I was stumped in ‘The Virgin in the Garden’ by the brilliant boy, Marcus,  who sees what I can only assume is geometry, “He saw intersecting cones, stretching to infinity … he saw that he was at the, or a, point of intersection, and that if it could not pass through it would shatter the fragile frame to make a way.” Being able to see math or geometry in my head is certainly one of  my deficiencies. I can barely add and subtract mentally and when I do, it never turns out well. When I was reading the passages concerning Marcus, my eyes crossed trying to imagine what this child was experiencing and because I was working on a masters at the time, I decided I would have to save the Frederica books for another summer, winter, whatever…  

But I have read Byatt’s short stories and the two novellas in ‘Angels and Insects’ and I must say …ooo … they are very interesting and enjoyable in a voyeuristic, sometimes creepy kind of way. Those crazy Victorians! Imagine what they would do with the Internet! ‘Possession’ remains my favorite Byatt book.

She has written a new book and it sounds like she has returned to the novelistic form more similar to Possession than her more recent books. The reviews about ‘The Children’s Book’ appeal to my rampant Anglophilia. It takes as it’s subject the latter decades during the Victorian period leading up to World War I. This stretch of British history  is the decisive period where many of our ideas concerning idyllic childhood came from. It was also the time when fairy tales became required childhood reading.  It is a romantic time, but like so much of life, it had a seamy underbelly. I am torn between loving the romance and tradition it created and being enlightened and horrified by the untold secrets people kept. It is reminiscent of  my love of fashion plates. The engravings are idealized renderings of the fashions of the time. The reality was actually muddy hems, ruined shoes and little variety in the average woman’s wardrobe. The women portrayed by the fashion plates were a minuscule percentage of the female population. I know this and while I am comforted by the ideal, intellectually I am fascinated by the reality.

The bottom line is – I must have this book! It will not be released in the U.S. until OCTOBER! I can’t wait that long, so I am ordering from Amazon UK today, here is a link if you would like to read it now as well.  This is shaping up to be a great reading summer. So many books! So little time.