Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, retold by Joe Rhatigan & Charles Nurnberg, illustrated by Eric Puybaret (Koala Books for Scholastic)
HB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-74276-141-1

Reviewed by Jenny Heslop

Alice is a bold girl with a curious nature. Intrigued by a white rabbit with a pocket watch, she follows him down his rabbit hole and finds herself in a magical land full of strange and wonderful creatures.

This modern retelling of Alice in Wonderland pares back the story into a simplified version appropriate to a picture book format. It captures Alice’s mood of careless casualness beautifully.
‘Alice was sitting by the river having an oh-so-ordinary afternoon, when a White Rabbit ran by.’

Rather than attempt to tell the whole story, we are given a slice of Alice’s adventures to follow. We meet the increasingly, urgently late White Rabbit, the Dodo, Mouse, Bill the Lizard and the blue caterpillar sitting on a giant mushroom. But no Cheshire Cat, Mad Hatter, or Queen and cards. Perhaps there are more books to come.

The vibrant, bold, luminescent and curious illustrations match the zany storyline well. The glossy pages glow with colour. Wide-eyed Alice is surrounded by, not only the creatures mentioned in the text, but also weird and wonderful insects, birds, monkeys. The strange environment of Wonderland is subtle, but if you pay close attention you can make out the faces in the trees and clouds, the appearance of a seal in the island in the lake of tears, and the carrot forest.

As in all good picture books, the text changes in font and size, becoming part of the page layout, emphasising the reading of certain words. 

Alice in Wonderland is a literary classic. Read and loved over the years by countless children and adults, this fun version is the 150th anniversary edition. Join Alice in her own bizarre world where she shrinks, grows and explores the wonders of an afternoon which turns out to be ‘not ordinary at all’.


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