November 17, 2017

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Alice in Wonderland: A Very Important Date | Focus On

1509-FO-Alice_2It was during a long-ago summer river outing that a young Oxford mathematics instructor invented the story of a little girl chasing a rabbit down a hole for Alice Liddell and her two sisters. Charles Dodgson, far better known today by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, subsequently wrote the tale down, revised it, found John Tenniel to illustrate it, and published it as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 150 years ago this year. Its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, came out several years later. Ever since, Alice and her fanciful wanderings have captured the popular imagination worldwide—there are hundreds of translated versions, endless reworkings, and nonstop popular culture references. While originally intended as books for children, the Alice stories have since been appreciated by everyone from babies to the most erudite of scholars. Carroll kept tight control on his work, but after his death and especially once the copyright ran out, artists, illustrators, movie-makers, playwrights, game-makers, and creators of every sort enthusiastically jumped in. Alice’s travels have been retold in highly abridged versions designed for the very young (even Carroll did one of these, the twee Nursery Alice) as well as adult novels with very dark sensibilities. And while Tenniel’s original illustrations continue to be the most familiar (even Disney based his on them), there have been a surprising variety of interpretations over the years. Happily, 150 years after her birth, Alice continues to be one of the most unique and fascinating characters of children’s literature, still enjoyed by readers today.

Young Readers

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice in Wonderland: Down the Rabbit Hole. retold by Joe Rhatigan & Charles Nurnberg. illus. by Eric Puybaret. Charlesbridge. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781623540494.
PreS-Gr 2–This bright, digitally rendered concoction is an accessible retelling of the first five chapters of Carroll’s book for pre and early readers. The simple, retold text coupled with the lively illustrations should encourage interest in the rest of the original story.

CARROLL, Lewis. Jabberwocky. illus. by Christopher Myers. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun. 2007. ISBN 9781423103721.
K Up–Arguably the most familiar of Carroll’s nonsense verse, “Jabberwocky” appears in Through the Looking-Glass. While illustrator Tenniel sets his visuals in a fairy tale wood with the monster appearing as a dragon, Myers situates the poem in a non-magical inner-city basketball court with vibrant and energetic images.

JAY, Alison. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Board Book. illus. by author. Penguin. 2015. ISBN 9780803729407.
PreS-K–Descriptive verbs—a single one for each illustration—are highlighted by Jay in her distinctive and colorful crackle-paint style. This board book works both as an introduction to the iconic story of Alice and as a simple concept book featuring such words as Alice’s “fall” down the rabbit hole and the Cheshire Cat’s “smile.”

SABUDA, Robert. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: A Pop-Up Adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Original Tale. illus. by author. S. & S. 2003. Tr $29.99. ISBN 9780689847431.
PreS Up–Sabuda combines splendid paper engineering with a streamlined version of Carroll’s text. Cleverly presented on full pages and in mini-books set on either side, the colorful Tenniel-inspired illustrations pop out from both. Among them are Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole, viewed through a long telescoping camera, and—at the end—a remarkable flurry of playing cards.

SCIESZKA, Jon, retel. Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. illus. by Mary Blair. Disney Pr. 2008. OSI. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423107286.
K-Gr 3–Often it is Disney’s feature-length cartoon that provides the first encounter with Carroll’s story. Blair was the iconic visionary of the film’s look and here her gorgeous concept art has been paired with Scieszka’s breezy retelling of the Disney story, which includes elements from Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass.

1509-FO-Alice-imagestrip1Middle Grade

BJORK, Cristina. The Other Alice: The Story of Alice Liddell and Alice in Wonderland. tr. from Swedish by Joan Sandin. illus. by Inga-Karin Eriksson. R & S Books. 1993. ISBN 9789129622423.
Gr 4-6–This is one of the only books for young readers that provides a sense of what the real Alice’s life was like, especially the aspects that are evident in Carroll’s story. Bjork and Sandin’s research included a visit to Oxford, and their text and illustrations accurately provide a child-friendly view of what life for a young Victorian girl would have been like.

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. illus. by Anna Bond. Penguin/Puffin. 2015. Tr $30. ISBN 9780147515872.
Gr 4 Up– The latest in the “Puffin in Bloom” series of illustrated classics, this is a pretty edition, lushly illustrated by Bond, a celebrated stationery creator and owner of Rifle Paper Co. A rather surprised-looking Alice makes her way through a Wonderland full of vibrant colors and textures.

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. illus. by Anthony Browne. Walker (UK). 2015. ISBN 9781406361575.
Gr 4 Up–Originally created for a 1988 edition, Browne’s bright and occasionally surreal illustrations incorporate witty visual elements that beautifully complement Carroll’s language play. Looking carefully, readers will notice that everything is not as it should be and that odd things lurk in backgrounds and down rabbit holes, and they may even find—this being Browne—a primate among the more familiar creatures of Wonderland.

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. illus. by Helen Oxenbury. Candlewick. 1999. (pap., 2003.) ISBN 9780763610579.
Gr 3-6–Alice, in this lively, unabridged version, bounces through in a wispy summer blue dress, a child who looks very contemporary. Filled with watercolors of the girl’s joyful encounters, Oxenbury’s interpretation celebrates the fun of the story, keeping it light and happy.

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. illus. by Ralph Steadman. Firefly. 2006. OP. ISBN 9781409311232.
Gr 4 Up–The well-known British cartoonist originally created his Alice drawings back in the early 1970s, and his wild pen-and-ink creations wink at aspects of the period. He writes in the introduction of wanting his White Rabbit to resemble a solid salary man; his rose-painting cards are union men, and other characters resemble pop personalities of the time.

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. illus. by John Tenniel. (Books of Wonder Series). HarperCollins. 1992. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780688110871.
Gr 4 Up–A fine facsimile of the first edition features Tenniel’s iconic illustrations freshly printed directly from the original plates and a cover hand-colored by Paul O. Zelinsky.

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures Underground. illus. by Charles Santore. Cider Mill Pr. 2015. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781604335729.
Gr 4 Up –Santore’s soft black-and-white sketches for an upcoming edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland are featured in this beautifully designed version of the story first given to Alice Liddell, complete with deckled edges and a die-cut hole in the cover opening to a small full-colored painting of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. Michael Patrick Hearn provides an informative introduction, and a lengthy interview with the artist is included.

CARROLL, Lewis. The Annotated Alice: 150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition . edited by Martin Gardner & Mark Burstein. Norton. 2015. Tr $39.95. ISBN 9780393245431.
Gr 5 Up–Originally annotated by the late Gardner, this edition has been ably bolstered up by the eminent Carroll scholar and collector Burstein. Gardner’s notes are all here, updated and supplemented with material collected since the previous edition. In addition to Tenniel’s iconic images, the text is illustrated by a fascinating selection of other artists such as Salvador Dalí.

CARROLL, Lewis. The Complete Alice. illus. by John Tenniel. Macmillan. 2015. Tr $40. ISBN 9781627794350.
Gr 5 Up–The original publisher has come out with a sumptuous edition containing the two Alice books with colored Tenniel illustrations, a foreword by Philip Pullman, and an engaging and accessible account of the publishing history of the titles, full of primary sources, including Carroll’s sketches and notes and one of the original woodblocks created for Tenniel’s illustrations.

WAKELING, Edward. Lewis Carroll’s Games and Puzzles . Dover. 1992. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9780486779805.
Gr 5 Up–Lewis Carroll adored games and puzzles, putting a few of them in the Alice books. You can find those and many more in this little book. One of the most well-known is Doublets, a game in which players attempt, in as few moves as possible, to change one word into another, one letter at a time.

1509-FO-Alice-imagestrip2

Older Readers

CARROLL, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. illus. by Andrea D’Aquino. (Classics Reimagined Series). Rockport Publishers. Sept. 2015. Tr $25. ISBN 9781631590757.
Gr 9 Up–In this beautiful new artistic consideration of Carroll’s book, D’Aquino’s elegant abstract and mixed-media illustrations provide a dreamy take on Alice’s journey through Wonderland. The book is exquisitely and uniquely designed, from the quotes on the slipcover to the occasional page where Carroll’s witty text drifts through, between, and among D’Aquino’s art.

CARROLL, Lewis. Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. illus. by Yayoi Kusama. Penguin. 2012. Tr $35. ISBN 9780141197302.
Gr 9 Up–Born with a medical condition that causes her to see spots, Japanese artist Kusama produces work both colorful and surreal. Kusama’s personal love for the Alice books and her interest in the child’s perspective come together in this elegantly designed edition as she mixes her iconic dots with other patterns and images to create a wildly abstract vision of Alice’s journey.

DOUGLAS-FAIRHURST, Robert. The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland. Belknap Pr. 2015. Tr $29.95. ISBN 9780674967793.
Gr 10 Up–In engaging and accessible prose, Douglas-Fairhurst considers Carroll biographically, literarily, and historically, weaving in the creation, reception, and subsequent influence of his seminal works. He parallels this with Alice Liddell’s own story, especially as it relates to her fictional character and story. A fresh consideration by an Oxford professor of literature that will fascinate adults and older teens.

TALBOT, Bryan. Alice in Sunderland. Dark Horse Bks. 2007. OSI. ebk. $24.99. ISBN 9781630084042.
Gr 7 Up–Years in the making, Talbot’s remarkable mélange of history, myth, and fantasy interweaves Carroll’s life, elements from his books, and the history of Talbot’s adopted home. Jumping about in time and filled to the brim with images and text, this rich work of art by a veteran British graphic novelist invites readers to explore a unique literary experience.

YOE, Craig. Alice in Comicland. IDW Publishing. 2014. Tr $29.99. ISBN 9781613779132.
Gr 7 Up–Carroll’s whimsical stories of Wonderland have been prime fodder for comics ever since they began in the early 20th century. In this oversize book, Yoe gives us a full color look at an enormous range of them. Some creators and comics will be familiar, say Charles Schulz or Archie. Others will be less so, but fascinating nonetheless.

Apps

The Alice App. Emanuel Paletz Corp. 2014. Version 1.4. iOS, requires 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPad. $4.99. Android, Version 1.3, requires 2.3 and up. $3.99. thealiceapp.com (Accessed 7/22/15).
Gr 2 Up–Utilizing material from venerable Dutch and Flemish Renaissance artists, old playing cards, photographs, and other ephemera, Paletz has fashioned a collection of clever collages to go with Carroll’s text. Users can listen or read the story on their own while exploring the scenes, some of which offer active engagements, say making Alice bigger or smaller or playing croquet.

Alice in America. Atomic Antelope. 2015. Version 3.0. iOS, requires 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPad. $3.99. itunes. http://ow.ly/R67PT. (Accessed 7/22/15).
Gr 2 Up–A clever variation on Through the Looking-Glass, this follow-up to Alice for the iPad (Atomic Antelope, 2015) is set in New York City. Carroll’s text is slightly tweaked to make it more New York–centric while Tenniel’s illustrations are gloriously reworked with the kings and queens as iconic skyscrapers.

Alicewinks: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland 150 Anniversary Animated Edition . by Lewis Carroll. developed by Walrus & Carpenter Productions LLC. 2013. Version 1.2. Compatible with iPad with iBooks 2 or later and iOS 5 or later, iPhone with iOS 8.4 or later, or Mac with OS X 10.9 or later. Android, Version 1.2, requires 4.0.3 and up. $9.99. alicewinks.com/ (Accessed 7/22/15).
Gr 2 Up–In a media-rich iBook, Carroll’s full text is enhanced by animations featuring the art of 12 early 20th century illustrators. Each chapter has one of these engaging animations followed by the illustrations they came from and the complete text of the book. Audio is included.

1509-FO-Alice-LCarrollBook_websiteWebsites

Alice’s Adventures Underground. The British Library, London. (Accessed 7/22/15).
Gr 5 Up–The original handwritten book for Alice Liddell resides at the British Library, where it has been digitized and made available online as part of its virtual book offerings. Viewers can zoom in to examine each page closely, and, if they choose, listen to it being read aloud.

Edinger-Monica_Contrib_WebMonica Edinger is a fourth grade teacher at the Dalton School in New York City and a lifelong lover of Carroll’s Alice stories.

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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Comments

  1. I teach a J-term course in which I take students to Oxford to study Lewis Carroll. This list of resources will be extremely helpful.