A groundbreaking fantasy novel and an irresistible ode to the joys of childhood
An immediate sensation when it was first published one hundred fifty years ago, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland revolutionized children’s literature with its delightful disregard for narrative convention and its surreal cast of characters, including the anxious White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the grinning Cheshire Cat, and the notorious Queen of Hearts. Generations of readers, writers, and artists have found enchantment and inspiration in Lewis Carroll’s incredible journey of the imagination from a drowsy riverbank in England to the magical world at the bottom of a rabbit hole and back again.
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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.