A pensive, titian-haired Alice trips down the rabbit hole in this adaptation that pairs the classic story with gracefully expressive illustrations. Ingpen’s detailed visions of the menagerie of creatures Alice meets lend them anthropomorphic qualities while remaining anatomically precise. The Cheshire cat, who peers out at Alice from a crowd of leaves with a milk-tooth smile, does so with kittenish serenity. The infamous tea-party is a cozy affair with intimate soft-focus portraits in pencil of the sleepy dormouse, hare (who dips his watch into his cup of tea) and the rather bleary Mad Hatter, whose pencil-drawn sidewise glances suggest it’s all dreamy good fun. A lovely and faithful interpretation. Ages 10–up. (Nov.)
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
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
This interesting book of critical essays is part of a series created by Dr. Bloom to accompany his "Great Books" studies. Bloom suggests that a liberal education should include the study of 100 of the greatest books ever written. They are the basis of this series and are listed in the beginning of the book. There is some debate, of course, on what are the 100 greatest books. This edition about Alice's Adventures in Wonderland includes 12 critical essays by well-known authors such as J.B. Priestly, Phyllis Greenacre, and Florence Baker Lennon. The authors attempt to categorize Carroll's famous children's novel in terms of thematic content, particular elements such as fantasy or love and death, and his use of poetry. The essays make for challenging and interesting reading, but as even Dr. Bloom admits, "Carroll's genre evades every definition." Carroll's use of nonsense is an English tradition not easily explained, and continues, thank goodness, as evidenced in many Beatles songs and Monty Python performances. Differing from folk tales in its lack of clear moral lessons, Alice's reading remains an exercise in the kind of childlike fun that leaves one thrilled and a bit apprehensive at the same time. The book includes an afterthought by Dr. Bloom, comparing the "Alice" books to modern children's stories such as the "Harry Potter" books; a chronology of the life of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll); an extensive bibliography; brief vita on the authors of the essays; and an index.
Children's Literature - Kathie M. Josephs
Alice is sitting with her sister and grows tired of doing absolutely nothing. While her sister reads, Alice picks some daisies when she sees a white Rabbit dressed in a waistcoat. The rabbit is holding a watch worrying that he is going to be late. Alice follows the rabbit and falls down the rabbit hole. In this new, strange place, Alice experiences many adventures. Unfortunately, these adventures are not happy ones but are more like nightmares. This world is called Wonderland and has very crazy creatures. She meets the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, and the Cheshire Cat. When she meets the Queen, she is invited to play a game of croquet, but, when the Queen shows her wicked side, Alice's life greatly changes. How will she be able to find her way back to the home she came from? Are there any creatures that live in Wonderland who can help her, and if so, how will she find them? At the end of the book, the author includes information on the main characters, Lewis Carroll, the retelling author, and the illustrator. There is also a glossary. This is a good book to use when introducing chapter books. Books written in graphic format are favorites of mine. They make it just the thing for students who are reluctant readers and never seem to finish a book on their own. They are also a wonderful way to introduce a variety of genres to young people. Young readers who want to read anything they can get their hands on will enjoy the graphics and fast-paced text. The full-color graphics make an enormous impact on the story. Reviewer: Kathie M. Josephs
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Matthews, well known for his work in sci-fi and fantasy realms, turns his attention to Carroll's classic. His illustrations, which vary between single- and double-page full-color airbrushed paintings and smaller sepia-toned vignettes, have an imagination-stretching, otherworldly veneer. Rich in purple and green hues, the cartoon artwork portrays an Alice with a somewhat angular face and straight blond hair. The depictions of the other characters are fresh and creative, as each familiar figure is festooned with delightfully exaggerated features, kinetic lines, and jewel-toned costuming. The paintings have a fine-art quality to them, and the grandiose scenes provide much detail and action for readers to explore and enjoy. Card-suit motifs appear in both the handsome book design and within the illustrations themselves. Unfortunately, some of the double-page artwork gets lost in the book's gutter. Matthews admits to suggesting "a wider visual arena for the story, including a space scene and the Palace of Hearts (not mentioned by Carroll)." The consistency of artistic vision and quality of the illustrations make this re-interpretation a success. The small-size type, which may demand more accomplished or patient readers, and the sophisticated visual tone make this volume appropriate for older Alice fans.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Ferocious Steadman spin.
North Shore News - Terry Peters
A world where people fall down rabbit holes and confront talking caterpillars is a place where Steadman would feel comfortable. An interesting look at the artist at an earlier stage in his own artistic approach.
San Diego Union-Tribune - David Elliott
Explosive ink drawings... acidic whimsies splash across pages, bringing dear Alice a newly stimulating cup of tea.
Seattle Times - Mary Ann Gwinn
Carroll's hall-of-mirrors children's tale and Steadman's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" style make for an eerily perfect fit.
Denver Post - Clair Martin
Pair[s] a perpetually suspicious Alice with peculiar creatures that well warrant her chariness.
Don't count on a bookful of sweet, charming etchings of the shrinking golden girl; this is a somewhat less flattering Alice than the one we've come to know and expect. In over 40 pen and ink illustrations, this Wonderland is more tempestuous; of greater, grittier (and funnier) distortion... when dangerous satirists like Steadman exercise their imaginations and lyric, delirious pens in the slivers and shards of a distorted world -- look out.
Waterbury Republican-American - Betsy Daley
Alice as you've rarely seen her... fun for all ages... full of the wit and wisdom Carroll originally gave us.
Victoria Times-Colonist - Liz Pogue
White Rabbit Tales [Newsletter of the Lewis Carrol
[Steadman's drawings] are still remarkably fresh and unique.
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
This chapter book adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic novel adheres to the original plot fairly closely. Alice, who is bored while sitting on a riverbank with her sister, falls asleep and has a remarkable series of dreams which begin with Alice running after the White Rabbit and falling down a rabbit hole. Once through the hole, she finds that whenever she drinks or eats certain things she either shrinks or grows taller, creating considerable turmoil. Her fantastic adventures include swimming out of her own pool of tears; outgrowing a house she finds herself inside; attending a mad tea party; playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts; and finding herself at the center of a trial of the Knave of Hearts, who is accused of stealing tarts. A great deal of Carroll's original language is preserved, and some drawings by his illustrator, John Tenniel, are included. Because the current adaptation is so short, however, the charm of the original is lost. Carroll's humor, word play, puns, and even characterizations are mostly missing as the story simply summarizes one adventure after another. The focus on plot poses some problems, as many children today may find the story too nonsensical, or, worse yet, boring. Children who are already familiar with the story and who are reading chapter books may enjoy it. Nevertheless, introducing children to the classic Walt Disney movie first and then letting them read (or hear their parents read) Carroll's original book later on is likely to be a more rewarding experience. Children who read this adaptation and then never seek out the original will have been robbed of one of literature's greatest pleasures. Reviewer: Leona Illig
Read an Excerpt
From Tan Lin's Introduction to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and
Through the Looking-Glass
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking
Glass and What Alice Found There pursue what lies beyond
and down rabbit holes and on reverse sides of mirrors. But mainly
their subject is what comes after, and in this sense the books are
allegories about what a child can know and come to know. This quest,
as in many great works of literature, unwinds against a larger
backdrop: what can and what cannot be known at a particular historical
moment, a moment that in Lewis Carroll's case preceded both Freud's
speculations on the unconscious and Heisenberg's formulation of the
uncertainty principle. Yet because the books were written by a teacher
of mathematics who was also a reverend, they are also concerned with
what can and cannot be taught to a child who has an infinite faith in
the goodness and good sense of the world. But Alice's quest for
knowledge, her desire to become something (a grown-up) she is not, is
inverted. The books are not conventional quest romances in which Alice
matures, overcomes obstacles, and eventually gains wisdom. For when
Alice arrives in Wonderland, she is already the most reasonable
creature there. She is wiser than any lesson books are able to teach
her to be. More important, she is eminently more reasonable than her
own feelings will allow her to express. What comes after for Alice?
Near the end of Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen
tells Alice, "Something's going to happen!"
Quests for mastery are continually frustrated in the Alice books. In
comparison with the eversane Alice, it is the various Wonderland
creatures who appear to be ridiculous, coiners of abstract word games.
Yet Carroll also frustrates, with equal precision, Alice's more
reasonable human desires. Why, after all, cannot Alice know why the
Mad Hatter is mad? Or why will Alice never get to 20 in her
multiplication tables? In Carroll, the logic of mathematical proofs
runs counter to the logic of reasonable human desireand neither logic
is easily mastered. To his radical epistemological doubt, Carroll
added a healthy dose of skepticism for the conventional children's
storya story that in his day came packaged with a moral aim and
treated the child as an innocent or tabula rasa upon which the morals
and knowledge of the adult could be tidily imprinted.
Alice embodies an idea Freud would later develop at length: What
Alice the child already knows, the adult has yet to learn. Or to be
more precise, what Alice has not yet forgotten, the adult has yet to
remember as something that is by nature unforgettable. In other words,
in Alice childhood fantasy meets the reality of adulthood,
which to the child looks as unreal and unreasonable as a Cheshire
Cat's grin or a Queen who yells "Off with her head!" But even as she
calls adult reality unreal, Alice, as the most reasonable creature in
her unreasonable dreams, doesn't quite yet realize that the adult's
sense of reality has already taken up residence in her. The principal
dream of most childrenthe dream within the dream, as it wereis the
dream of not dreaming any longer, the dream of growing up. For the
adult, the outlook is reversed. The adult's quest is an inverted one:
to find those desires again, in more reasonable formsand this
involves forgetting the original childhood desires (to become an
adult) in order to remember them as an adult. The psychoanalyst Adam
Phillips notes: "Freud is not really saying that we are really
children, but that the sensual intensities of childhood cannot be
abolished, that our ideals are transformed versions of childhood
pleasures. Looking forward . . . is a paradoxical form of looking
back. The future is where one retrieves the pleasures, the bodily
pleasures of the past."1 The Alice
books manage to show both these queststhat of the child to look
forward, and of the adult to look backsimultaneously, as mirror
logics of each other.
Like both Freud and the surrealists, Carroll implicitly understood
that a child's emotions and desires appear omnipotent and boundless to
the childand thus make the adult's forgetting of them difficult if
not illogical. Growing up poses psychological and logical absurdities.
The quandary of a logically grounded knowledge constituted out of an
illogical universe pervades both books. The questions that Alice asks
are not answered by the animals in Wonderland nor by anyone after she
wakens. It is likely that her questions don't have answers or that
there are no right questions to ask. Alice's Adventures in
Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass remain the most
prophetic of the nineteenth century's anti-narratives, inverted quest
romances, circular mathematical treatises on the illogical logic of
forgetting one's desires. They display a logic that the child must
master in order to grow up. As the White Queen remarks of the Red
Queen: "She's in that state of mind . . . that she wants to deny
somethingonly she doesn't know what to deny!"