Secrets of the Looking Glass Blog Tour, Author Interview, and Review

Thursday, September 22, 2022

After returning from Wonderland, Celia and Tyrus journey to the Looking-Glass World to reclaim their mirror images and stop a war between two powerful queens.

When a dark creature called the Bandersnatch steals Lewis Carroll’s lost diaries, Celia and Tyrus try to get it back but are tricked into passing through a magic mirror into the Looking-Glass World, a place where everything—themselves included—are divided in two, like identical twins. Celia’s astute logic and Tyrus’s exceptional imagination now belong to their mirror images, Lia and Ty, who are generals in the Red Queen’s Army, which is at war against the White Kingdom.

Left without their greatest problem-solving skills, Celia and Tyrus must rely on each other more than ever as they play a massive game of chess to try to catch their mirror images, who always seem to be one step ahead of them. Along the way, they engage in a rhyming battle with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, seek advice from Humpty and Dumpty, and learn how to believe in the impossible from the White Queen, who remembers the future as if it were the past.

As the final battle draws near, Celia and Tyrus form an uneasy alliance with Lia and Ty in order to find the legendary vorpal sword—the only weapon powerful enough to stop the war. If they fail, not only will two kingdoms be destroyed, but Celia and Tyrus might never regain their stolen talents and be trapped in the Looking-Glass World forever.

I was a little hesitant to read Secrets of the Looking Glass. I've read other Alice in Wonderland retellings or series inspired by the classic and they were just not very good and dark. I decided to try this book because I was familiar with the author's other works, and I was looking for new series for my kids to read. I was pleasantly surprised by this series. It's really well written and the author does a good job at keeping the reader engaged with suspense, twists and turns, and unexpected surprises. There was also a lot of depth to this book and as a parent, I really liked the lessons that the author was teaching...looking at someone's actions rather than appearances and just because one talent is taken away doesn't diminish your other talents and the other wonderful things that make up who you are. The characters in the story were interesting and cleverly written. I felt like it was pretty true to Carroll's story, but yet more approachable for today's readers and audiences. The story was interesting, entertaining, and easy to read. I think readers will enjoy the action and adventure in this story. The story was also clean and age-appropriate for kids. I could also see this book used in the classroom. There were several parts of the story that could lead to an in-depth discussion. There was also a lot of great lines in this book..."In real life, kids didn't defeat dragons or save worlds. But, if there was one thing he'd taught me, it was that stories weren't just a way to hide from the hard things in life. They inspired us to face our troubles with courage and imagination." This book seemed to fulfill that quote in a lot of ways by inspiring kids to use their imaginations, find courage, and believe in themselves. This is a book that you'll want to add to your home library. To learn more about this book, click here.


Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write this series?

J. Scott Savage - Most people know that Lewis Carroll wrote two Alice in Wonderland books, but because a lot of the movies and TV shows combine characters from both worlds, we only get a small taste of The Looking Glass World with things like the Tweedle Twins, the Red and White chess pieces, and the Jabberwock. I really wanted to explore that world more while also getting a chance to learn more about Celia, Tyrus, and of course, Hatter.

Life Is What It's Called - What can readers expect from you next?

J. Scott Savage - I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more Wonderland Diaries books, but in the meantime, I have a new series about a fifth-grade treasure hunter told in a middle grade noir voice. Graysen Foxx and the Treasure of Principal Redbeard comes out spring of 2023. I also have a new project with one of my favorite illustrators that I hope to be able to announce soon.

Life Is What It's Called - How does this series differ from your other series and how is it similar? 

J. Scott Savage - It’s really important to me that all of my series have a unique voice and flow. The Wonderland Diaries books have more of whimsy and silliness than, say, my Mysteries of Cove books. But I also want all of my books to have a good combination of meat—character growth, plot elements that make you think, puzzles and mysteries to figure out—and dessert—jokes, surprises, and fun silliness.

As far as differences between book one and book two, book one had to visit a lot of familiar characters and places. In a way we were sort of revisiting a lot of things from the original Alice in Wonderland book. In this book, I had more room to explore and world-build on my own, while still retaining Carroll’s original framework. I loved unraveling the mythology of the battle, the Jabberwock, the Bandersnatch, and why mirrors are so powerful.

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see this being used in the classroom?

J. Scott Savage - As a kid who didn’t always fit in, stories were a real lifeline to me from the early grades up through high school. Because of that, I’ve tended to lean toward telling stories about kids who might feel like they don’t fit in. In the first book, Celia and Tyrus discover their logic and imagination. In this book, they have to learn that both of them have so much more to offer than just one thing. I hope that teachers can use this story to help their students discover how fun it can be to discover new talents—especially ones that kids might not feel they are very good at.

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers learn from this book?

J. Scott Savage - I had so much fun researching the depth of the Looking Glass World, chess moves, debates, riddles, and puns, and military strategy. I hope readers will enjoy those as well. But mostly I hope it will inspire them to explore new things they might have been afraid to try before.

Life Is What It's Called - Why do you think it's important to retell stories in new ways?

J. Scott Savage - Retellings of classic stories and fairy tales can go a lot of directions—from making the villain a hero to completely shaking everything up. I value Lewis Carroll’s genius so much that I didn’t want to try to turn it on its head. Instead, I wanted to dive deeper. I wanted to know why the world was a chess board, what the two queens were fighting about, who the mysterious knitting sheep was, and so much more. But I tried to do it in a way that I hope Lewis Carroll would enjoy, with word play, and clever insights from Hatter, and a genuine love for his world.

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write middle grade fiction?

J. Scott Savage - I view middle grade as a time of discovery. Even the ordinary things are magical when you experience them for the first time. From friendships to going different places and meeting new people, to different emotions. Seeing things through the eyes a child makes us see them in new ways or ways that we might have forgotten about. Plus, I think that no matter how old we are, inside we still view ourselves as children setting off on an epic adventure.

For kids who struggle to make friends or fit the mold the world makes for them, stories can be a life-saving experience. And honestly, I don’t know how much that changes even when we are technically adults.

Life Is What It's Called - What will readers like most about this book?

J. Scott Savage - Some readers might be more into the battles and strategy, some will love the word play and riddles, and others will get into meeting some really fun new characters. Mostly, I just hope they enjoy rejoining Celia and Tyrus and a grand adventure to an amazing and unexpected world.

Life Is What It's Called - Why do you think it's important to encourage reading in kids?

J. Scott Savage - Oh, gosh. I could go on and on for hours about this. But in a nutshell, kids who read more make friends more easily, get better jobs, are healthier, are less likely to end up in prison, and are more successful in life. But even if all of that weren’t the case, readers are just generally nicer people because they are able to see the world from a different perspective than their own. I truly believe that if we could all read more stories about people who are different than ourselves, the world would be far less divided than it is. And that’s as good as a reason as you can find.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that help support this blog. This post is in cooperation with the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book; however, I shared my honest opinion.

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