In the opening paragraph of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the heroine asks: "What is the use of a book without pictures or conversation?"
Books with pictures and conversations - a perfect description of CD-Roms or Web sites. One British Web site is maintained by U-Net, in Warrington, Cheshire, where Alice's creator, Lewis Carroll, began life as Charles Dodgson. The site holds detail supporting a local exhibition and will continue as an education resource when the exhibition ends, with links into other sites and complete Carroll texts. There are also useful links from Alice in Wonderland Links, a site based in Llandudno. But a simple search on the Web for Lewis Carroll yields many more.
Internet discussion groups also yield much information. Many hold arcane pieces of Carrolliana - some even speculate that the gentle and upright author was a paedophile, or Jack the Ripper.
Edward Wakeling, a schools maths inspector and editor of Carroll's diaries, has a cross-curricular version of his hero. Carroll, he says, is the only person to appear twice in the national curriculum - on Year 6 book lists for the Victorian era and, with puzzles from his Game of Logic, on maths courses. Wakeling is producing a curriculum-based educational CD- Rom for pupils at key stages 1 and 2, and is looking for a publisher.
The existing Alice CD-Rom, by Europress Software, is for home use. It has Disneyesque illustrations loosely based on the originals of John Tenniel, actors reading the texts, and four games.
Lewis Carroll died in January 1898. Next year's centenary, with the books now out of copyright, leaves the world wide open for multimedia versions of his work, so children can discover computers and literature at the same time.
Plug into Alice on: http:www.unet.netservicesalice.htm http:www.nwi.wales.com The Europress CD-Rom costs Pounds 19.99