9-1 | Mental Recreation in Wonderland


Mental Recreation in Wonderland

Kate Pendlebury


The author argues that children’s books are not, as commonly held, either didactic or entertaining and that successful juvenile literature teaches what Lewis Carroll, who wrote Alice in Wonderland, termed “mental recreation.” Pendlebury contends that learning and play, far from being opposites, can closely resemble one another and sometimes even seem indistinguishable. Using Carroll’s works as an example of the delight possible in conceptual play, she explores how his Alice stories teach readers to engage in mental recreation by using defamiliarizing reversals and inver-sions, offering riddle-like conversations, demonstrating how to play with words and ideas, and eliciting the basic pleasures of music through language. Key words: children’s literature; mental recreation; play with ideas; play with words