The themes and settings of Through the Looking-Glass make it a kind of mirror image of Wonderland: the first book begins outdoors, in the warm month of May (4 May), uses frequent changes in size as a plot device, and draws on the imagery of playing cards; the second opens indoors on a snowy, wintry night exactly six months later, on 4 November (the day before Guy Fawkes Night), uses frequent changes in time and spatial directions as a plot device, and draws on the imagery of chess. In it, there are many mirror themes, including opposites, time running backwards, and so on.
Alice is playing with a white kitten (whom she calls "Snowdrop") and a black kitten (whom she calls "Kitty")—the offspring of Dinah, Alice's cat in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland—when she ponders what the world is like on the other side of a mirror's reflection. Climbing up on the fireplace mantel, she pokes at the wall-hung mirror behind the fireplace and discovers, to her surprise, that she is able to step through it to an alternative world. In this reflected version of her own house, she finds a book with looking-glass poetry, "Jabberwocky", whose reversed printing she can read only by holding it up to the mirror. She also observes that the chess pieces have come to life, though they remain small enough for her to pick up.
Upon leaving the house (where it had been a cold, snowy night), she enters a sunny spring garden where the flowers have the power of human speech; they perceive Alice as being a "flower that can move about." Elsewhere in the garden, Alice meets the Red Queen, who is now human-sized, and who impresses Alice with her ability to run at breathtaking speeds. This is a reference to the chess rule that queens are able to move any number of vacant squares at once, in any direction, which makes them the most "agile" of pieces.
The Red Queen reveals to Alice that the entire countryside is laid out in squares, like a gigantic chessboard, and offers to make Alice a queen if she can move all the way to the eighth rank/row in a chess match. This is a reference to the chess rule of Promotion. Alice is placed in the second rank as one of the White Queen's pawns, and begins her journey across the chessboard by boarding a train that literally jumps over the third row and directly into the fourth rank, thus acting on the rule that pawns can advance two spaces on their first move.
When Alice takes a tumble following the White Rabbit, she finds herself in a world in which nothing is what it is, because everything is what it isn't. But can Alice make sense of the nonsense in the land of the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat? And will she ever get home again?
'It's a poor sort of memory that only works backward.'
In Carroll's sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice once again finds herself in a bizarre and nonsensical place when she passes through a mirror and enters a looking-glass world where nothing is quite as it seems. From her guest appearance as a pawn in a chess match to her meeting with Humpty Dumpty, Through the Looking Glass follows Alice on her curious adventure and shows Carroll's great skill at creating an imaginary world full of the fantastical and extraordinary.
Alice and all her many friends will never be forgotten so long as books for children are published. The fascinating adventures of this timeless little girl as she plunges down the rabbit-hole, shrinks and grows, meets the pack of cards and the chess pieces -- should be read regularly by all ages for their totally original fantasy, their humor, and their charm.
The way Dinah washed her children's faces was this: first she held the poor thing down by its ear with one paw, and then with the other paw she rubbed its face all over, the wrong way, beginning at the nose: and just now, as I said, she was hard at work on the white kitten, which was lying quite still and trying to purr—no doubt feeling that it was all meant for its good.
But the black kitten had been finished with earlier in the afternoon, and so, while Alice was sitting curled up in a corner of the great arm-chair, half talking to herself and half asleep, the kitten had been having a grand game of romps with the ball of worsted Alice had been trying to wind up, and had been rolling it up and down till it had all come undone again; and there it was, spread over the hearth-rug, all knots and tangles, with the kitten running after its own tail in the middle.
Lewis Carroll's classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has been adapted to an easier reading level for Stepping Stones, while keeping all the fun, nonsense, and fantastic twists of the original book.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The original flavour of this classic has been carefully retained in this abridged version.