One of the most popular and most quoted books in English, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was the creation of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898), a distinguished scholar, mathematician, and author who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Written for young readers but enjoyed equally by adults, the wonderfully fantastic tale is credited with revolutionizing children’s literature and liberating it from didactic constraints.
The story is deeply but gently satiric, enlivened with an imaginative plot and brilliant use of nonsense, as it relates Alice’s adventures in a bizarre, topsy-turvy land underground. There she encounters a cast of strange characters and fanciful beasts, including the White Rabbit, March Hare, Mad Hatter, the sleepy Dormouse and grinning Cheshire Cat, the Mock Turtle, the dreadful Queen of Hearts, and a host of other unusual creatures.
Only Lewis Carroll has shown us the world upside down the way a child sees it, and has made us laugh as children laugh. —Virginia Woolf
The clue to the enduring fascination and greatness of the Alice books lies in language... It is play, and word-play, and its endless intriguing puzzles continue to reveal themselves long after we have ceased to be children. —A. S. Byatt
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is a book of that extremely rare kind which will belong to all the generations to come until the language becomes obsolete. —Sir Walter Besant
If Zwerger's Alice (reviewed above) is deliciously cryptic, Oxenbury's (Tom and Pippo books) brims with the fun and frights of a visit to an amusement park. In perhaps her most ambitious work to date, Oxenbury applies her finely honed instinct for a child's perspective to create an Alice accessible to all ages. With the opening scene of a tomboyish heroine slumped against her sister who is reading under a tree, the artist seems to answer Alice's first line: "What is the use of a book... without pictures or conversations?" Nearly every spread contains either a spot-line drawing or full-bleed full-color painting. The artist nods to Tenniel with her hilarious portrait of the waistcoated White Rabbit and even extends the metaphor of the "grin without a cat" with a quartet of watercolors as the Cheshire Cat begins to disappear--until only his grin remains. The villains here are more stoogelike than menacing, including the baby-throwing Duchess and the Queen of Hearts, and Oxenbury makes the most of such comic opportunities as the entangled powdered wigs of the Frog-Footman and Fish-Footman. A series of cleverly choreographed closing scenes shows Alice in the Queen's courtroom, pelted by the playing cards that, on the next spread, seem to have transformed into the falling leaves of the tree where Alice awakens and her sister gives her a kiss; a poignant parting shot of Alice's sister silhouetted at dusk under the tree, with sheep grazing in the field, acknowledges the shift in tone of Carroll's conclusion. An ideal first introduction to a lifelong favorite read. Ages 8-up.