Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Zwerger's (The Wizard of Oz) captivating cover image of the Mad Tea-Party for this edition of Carroll's 1865 tale conveys the psychological tension of the interior artwork: Alice, at the head of an elongated table with a pristine white linen cloth, stares at the pocket watch that the March Hare is about to lower into his cup of tea. The Hare, bug-eyed, gazes out at readers while the Mad Hatter to his right, wearing a hat box, fixates on a black upturned chapeau (in lieu of a place setting), and the Dormouse between them sleeps. Across the table, an empty red mug is placed in front of a vacant green chair, and a teacup and saucer trimmed in red seems to be set for the reader. The painting conveys the way in which Zwerger brilliantly manages both to invite readers into the story and to keep them at a distance. From the heroine's first appearance, as she falls down a well while chasing the White Rabbit, with a glimpse of orderly bookshelves at the upper left corner, Zwerger demonstrates the many layers to Alice's journey: a cutaway view reveals that the bulk of the other "shelves" are the result of rats and insects tunneling underground. The supporting cast conveys the artist's nearly sardonic perspective. The contrary caterpillar, with six of its eight arms crossed, would be at home in New York's East Village: instead of a hookah it smokes a cigarette and sips red wine, yet--unlike Sir John Tenniel's sedated counterpart--this caterpillar is lucid, defiantly staring out at an Alice (and readers) absent from the scene. Zwerger's penetrating interpretation reinvents Carroll's situations and characters and demands a rereading of the text. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Charles Dodgson wrote this story at the request of Alice Liddell, and for close to 150 years, it has been a favorite of young readers. Lisbeth Zwerger brings her award-winning artistic skill to the story and offers a very different look for a new generation. Her palette is brighter, the art has more of a layered look than in her previous works, and she offers more frontal views. The whimsy is there and the White Rabbit, Queen, Cheshire Cat and others will be quickly recognized. The illustrations range from full pages to spot art liberally sprinkled throughout the twelve chapters. The story can be read on one level as a magical adventure in which Alice faces a host of very strange things and variety of bizarre characters. It fills a child's need for fantasy and escape. The actual social commentary and satire will elude most contemporary readers, but it in no way diminishes the joy of reading this classic story.
Originally released in 1865, this book is a timeless classic. This edition, illustrated by Ralph Steadman, which first came out in 1968 but has been out of print for a long time making it somewhat of a rarity, has been carefully restored. Carroll's ironic tale, with the familiar cast of characters (Alice, the White Rabbit, the Dodo, the White Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse, the Hatter, the Queen and King, the Mock Turtle, the Gryphon). takes on a bizarre life of its own with Steadman's black and white illustrations. Children who have been accustomed to the Disney version of this classic will be curious, confused yet amazed by what they read and see in this book (perhaps some adults as well). Steadman also created the hand carved wood cuts that make the title and chapter numbers. The illustrator started his career as a children's book illustrator and cartoonist in 1956 and since then has had his distinctive drawings in print internationally. Recommended. 2003, Firefly Books, Ages 8 up.
Cindy L. Carolan
Read an Excerpt
DOWN THE RABBIT-HOLE
ALICE was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do. Once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it - "And what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, "Oh dear! oh dear! I shall be too late!" (When she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural.) But when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat pocket, and looked at it and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat pocket or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down - so suddenly, that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.
Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything. Then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and bookshelves: here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labeled "ORANGE MARMALADE," but to her great disappointment it was empty. She did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody underneath, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.
"Well!" thought Alice to herself, "after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling downstairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!" (Which was very likely true.)
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? "I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?" she said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think." (For, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over.) "Yes, that's about the right distance. But then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (Alice had not the slightest idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she thought they were nice, grand words to say.)
Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think" - (she was rather glad there was no one listening this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) - "but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know - please, ma'am, is this New Zealand or Australia?" (and she tried to curtsy as she spoke - fancy curtsying as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?) "And what an ignorant little girl she'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere."
Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again. "Dinah'll miss me very much to-night, I should think!" (Dinah was the cat.) "I hope they'll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. - Dinah, my dear, I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that's very like a mouse, you know. - But do cats eat bats, I wonder?" And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, "Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?" and sometimes, "Do bats eat cats?" for, you see, as she couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way she put it. She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and was saying to her very earnestly, "Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?" when suddenly, thump! thump! down she came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.
Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up on to her feet in a moment. She looked up, but it was all dark overhead. Before her was another long passage, and the White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it. There was not a moment to be lost. Away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, "Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!" She was close behind it when she turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen: she found herself in a long, low hall, which was lit up by a row of lamps hanging from the roof.