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A Mad Tea-Party Rewritten by Lindsay Grubb Alice had been sitting on the riverbank with her sister who was lost in her book, when she spotted a white rabbit with pink eyes. She did not find the white rabbit’s pink eyes or the fact that she could hear it saying it was going to be late, to be strange. It was only when the white rabbit pulled out a pocketwatch from his waistcoat that Alice jumped to her feet and followed it as it ran across the field. Alice had never seen a rabbit with a pocket-watch, nor had she seen one wearing a waistcoat. She was so curious that when she saw it pop down a large rabbit-hole, she followed it without any thought! That is when Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland really began. It seemed to Alice that while she kept spotting the White Rabbit, she could not seem to catch up with him. She was certainly in a very curious place and was meeting some very curious characters on her journey. She was prompted to eat mushrooms and little cakes and drink potions from little magic bottles (after making sure they were not marked poison). These helped her to grow larger or smaller so she could fit through key holes or fetch keys off of high tables. After taking advice from a smoking caterpillar on a giant mushroom, and wanting nothing more to do with a Duchess who had a piglet for a baby, Alice ran into a large smiling Cheshire Cat. Alice explained that she was looking for the White Rabbit. When she asked him which way she should go, the Cheshire Cat had suggested she visit the Mad Hatter and the March Hare who lived nearby. When Alice reached the house of the March Hare, she ate a little from the mushroom as the house was rather big. Once she was a little taller, she went looking for the Hare and the Hatter. Alice found them sitting at a large table under a tree. There was a Dormouse sleeping between them and they were using his head as a cushion. Alice thought this looked very uncomfortable for the Dormouse, but as he was fast asleep, she supposed he did not mind. The table was very large and set for many people, but the three of them were crowded around one corner. When they saw Alice coming they yelled out to her that there was no room for her at the table. Clearly they did not want Alice to join them, but she did so anyway, choosing a large arm-chair at one end of the table. Her feelings were a little bit hurt by their rude reaction to her and she told them crossly that there was plenty of room for her there. The March Hare suggested she have some wine. Now Alice was just a young girl and knew she should not be drinking wine, but she looked around the table anyway. The only thing she could see to drink on the table was tea. She looked at the March Hare and told him that she did not see any wine. He told her this was because there wasn’t any. Alice was confused and more than a little angry with him. Alice remarked that he was very rude and that it was not very polite to offer someone something if you didn’t have it to give to them in the first place. The Hare scowled at Alice. He told her that it was also not very polite of her to sit down when she was not formally invited to do so! Alice thought about that for a while and apologised. She said she was sorry, but that she hadn’t thought they would mind as the table was set for so many guests.

The Hatter had been staring at Alice for a long time when he suddenly blurted out that she needed to cut her hair. Alice liked her long hair very much. She was quite taken aback at his abrupt manner. Alice scolded him telling him that it was not very nice to make such personal comments about a person. The Hatter was surprised by Alice’s response. He realised he had offended Alice and quickly tried to change the subject with a riddle asking her why a raven is like a writing-desk. Alice relaxed a little as she enjoyed riddles and thought this would be fun. Alice commented out loud that she believed she could guess the answer.

The March Hare turned to Alice asking her if she meant that she could find out the answer to the riddle. He went on to say that if this was indeed what she meant, then she should say exactly that. Alice was angry again, and told him that she did mean what she said, and that was the same thing. The Hatter shook his head telling her that it was not the same thing at all! The Hatter was right. In life, if you do not think before you speak and make absolutely sure that what you mean to say is very clearly understood, there can be confusion. What you say can have more than one meaning. The Dormouse who was still asleep told her that there is a big difference between seeing what you eat and eating what you see. The March Hare agreed that liking what you get is different to getting what you like. The Dormouse carried on talking in his sleep and told her that she might as well be saying that she breathes when she sleeps and sleeps when she breathes. “Oh my! Alice thought to herself. Everyone fell silent for a while, and Alice proceeded to think about everything she could remember about ravens and writing-desks. Unfortunately she could not remember very much at all. The Hatter was holding his pocket watch up to his ear. He kept shaking it and then asked Alice what day it was. Alice thought for a while and told him it was the fourth of the month. The Hatter looked angrily at the March Hare yelling at him that the watch was two days wrong! He grumbled that he had told him butter wouldn’t suit the works! The March Hare shrugged and told him he had used the best butter. The Hatter replied crossly that some crumbs must have gotten in as well and that he shouldn’t have put it in with the bread knife! That was when the March Hare took the Hatters watch and dipped it into his cup of tea. He could not come up with anything better to say than to repeat his first remark - that he had used the very best butter. Alice by nature was very curious little girl. She had been looking over the Hatter’s shoulder at the watch. She remarked that it was a very funny watch that seemed to tell the day of the month and not the time. The Hatter asked testily whether her watch told what time of year it is. Alice responded readily that of course it didn’t but that it was because it stayed the same year for such a long time. The Hatter told her that his watch was exactly the same. Alice was growing tired and terribly confused with this conversation. It was not making any sense. It was English, but it just did have any meaning to it. As politely as she could, Alice said to the Hatter that she didn’t quite understand him. The Hatter had also had enough of this topic of conversation. Turning to the Dormouse, he poured a little hot tea on its nose because it had fallen asleep again. He then turned to Alice and asked if she had guessed the riddle yet. Alice replied that she had not and that she gave up and he should rather just tell her the answer. The Hatter said he had no idea what the answer was, and the March Hare agreed with him. Alice could not believe the insanity of the conversation. Alice wanted to scream with frustration. Trying to control her temper she told the Hatter that she could not believe anyone would waste time asking a riddle to which they had no answer. Then, just when Alice though the conversation could not get any more absurd, it did. The Hatter fixed her with a stare and told her very matter of factly that time was not an “it”. Time was in fact a “him”.

Alice retorted that she was sure she did not know what he meant by this statement. The Hatter replied in a very condescending manner that he was sure she did not understand as he guessed she had never actually met Time. Alice was not really sure how to reply to this statement. Things were certainly never what they seemed in Wonderland. Alice replied cautiously that although she had never met Time, she had beat time when she learned music. The Hatter laughed sarcastically and told her that Time doesn’t like to be beaten. He went on to say that if you were on good terms with Time, he would do almost anything you like with the clock, for example, he would keep it lunchtime all day long for you if you liked. Then you could miss all your lessons. Alice mused thoughtfully that she could certainly see the benefits but that she was not sure it was really that good an idea to keep eating all day long. She asked the Hatter if he was on good terms with Time. The Mad Hatter shook his head sadly and told her about the fight that he had with Time last March, before Time went mad. He told her that he was singing his version of Twinkle, twinkle little bat at the concert given by the Queen of Hearts. He sang the song for Alice to see if she knew it and she told him she must have heard something like it before. She thanked him politely for entertaining her with his song, and that she thought he did it very well. The Hatter beamed at her appreciation and told her the Queen had not liked it at all! In fact the Queen had yelled out during the performance that he was murdering the time and told the guards to chop off his head! Alice exclaimed that it was not very nice of the Queen to do that at all. The Hatter agreed with her and said that since then, Time wouldn’t do a thing he asked and that now it was always six o’clock. Alice finally understood. So that was the reason so many tea things were laid on the table. The Hatter sighed saying there is never any time to wash the dishes in between tea-times so they simply kept moving round. Alice asked what happens when they all got to the beginning again? The March Hare had grown entirely bored of the conversation and suggested a change in topic. He voted that Alice tell them all a story. Alice shook her head saying she was sorry but she did not know one to tell them. The Hare was growing impatient and insisted that they wake up the Dormouse as he would have a story to tell them. The Dormouse opened his eyes slowly, saying he was not really sleeping and that he had heard what they were saying. He agreed to tell them a story about three sisters who lived in a well. Alice was fascinated and said she thought that was a most peculiar place for someone to live and asked the Dormouse why they were living in a well and what kind of well it was. The Hatter was irritated by her questions and told her that if she interrupted the Dormouse, he would take too long and would fall asleep before he finished the story. The Dormouse went on to tell them that the three sisters lived in a treacle well and they loved to draw. Alice interrupted him again saying she did not think there was such a thing as treacle well. The Dormouse looked at her in frustration and the March Hare suggested quickly that she have some more tea. But Alice had not had any tea yet and she asked him how it was possible that she could take more if she had not had any yet. He responded that it was easy to take more of something if you had taken none. It was more difficult to take less of something if you had taken nothing.

The Dormouse who was growing tired of all these interruptions in his story continued to tell his tale. He told them that the sisters liked to draw in the bottom of the well, and that they liked to draw things that began with the letter “M”. Alice interrupted him again asking why they only drew things beginning with the letter “M”. The Dormouse began to sulk and hushed Alice up, telling her that if she could not be civil she had better finish the story herself! Alice apologised humbly to the Dormouse, saying she was sorry she was so rude and that she would not interrupt him again. She urged him to go on with the story. At that stage, the Hatter declared that he wanted a clean cup and told everyone to move up one place. Round the table they all moved, first the Hatter, followed by the Dormouse and then the March Hare. Alice ended up taking the place of the March Hare. She looked around the table. The only one who was any better off was the Hatter who had a clean cup and saucer in front of him. She was a great deal worse off than before, she wasn’t able to take her tea and bread with butter with her, and when he had moved places, the March Hare had upset a jug of milk into his plate. Alice sat quietly waiting for the Dormouse to finish his very confusing story. By this time, its eyes had closed and he was falling asleep again. The Hatter pinched it and woke it up again. The Dormouse continued with his story saying that the sisters liked to draw things beginning with the letter “M”, like mouse-traps, the moon, memory and muchness. He asked her if she knew the saying “things are much of a muchness” and wondered if she had ever seen such a thing as a drawing of a muchness? Alice began to reply that she did not think she had seen a drawing of a muchness, when the Hatter yelled at her that if she did not think then she should not talk. Alice was so angry! This rudeness was more than she could bear. She got up in great disgust and walked off. She thought they would call after her, but the Dormouse fell asleep instantly and the other two did not even notice she was gone. When she turned back one last time, she saw the Hatter and the Hare trying to stuff the Dormouse in a tea pot. This was the most peculiar tea party she had ever attended. It was confusing and frustrating and made no sense, yet Alice had learnt a number of lessons. She learnt that being polite to other people is very important or their feelings might get hurt and they may be angry. She understood now that it was rude to say things to other people without taking their feelings into consideration. She had been taught that it was rude to interrupt people when they are speaking, that you should always wait for them to finish and then ask any questions you might have. One of the most important things Alice had learnt was that you should never eat or drink anything unless you know exactly where it comes from and the person giving it to you, as you do not know how you are going to react to it. Alice was very relieved to have left the tea party, and vowed never to go there again. As she was walking, Alice noticed one of the trees had a small door in it. She thought it was very curious, but then the whole day had been curious. Opening the door she found herself in the long hall again, close to the little glass table. This time she was clever, she took the golden key and unlocked the door leading into the garden. Then she nibbled at the mushroom until she was about a foot high and walked down the little passage, finding herself at last in the beautiful garden, amongst bright flowers and cool fountains.

A Mad Tea Party  
A Mad Tea Party  

A rewrite of the classic Mad Hatters Tea Party for the US school system with additional learnings for the children