Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (150th Anniversary Edition) by Lewis Carroll and Anthony Browne

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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (150th Anniversary Edition) by Lewis Carroll and Anthony Browne

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A book that probably has Read Me written all over it, even if it's patently stupid.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: March 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
ISBN: 9781406361575

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We here at the Bookbag aren't always of a Reithian, canon-following bent; we don't necessarily feel the need to urge classic texts down our readers' throats. But in this instance it is worthwhile. Not since this book first appeared 150 years ago has something so surreal, so oddball and so peculiarly plotted captured the imagination anything quite as this did. It's a classic that, if you haven't before, you can polish off in definitely under two hours. It's something then that on this occasion I suggest you should do, if only to find out what complete rubbish it is.

It really is pish, tosh, and lots of less family-friendly four letter words. Reading it I realised I probably never read it all the way through as a child. I recalled a TV version from when I was young, and I am now aware I couldn't have seen much of that either, having given up on it too. So even if I knew about the court case, the polo with the flamingos and the card soldiers with their constant beheading instructions, and the rabbit and the size changes, seeing it all formlessly crammed on to the page was an eye opener. How did something so bonkers, warm 'it was only a dream' conclusion aside, get to be so famous and even have a sequel?

If you're then quibbling about how I can betray the Bookbag star rating and give a book I patently disagreed with four stars, then bear in mind I do find it compelling that something like this should have gained such a familiar place in our hearts, and I do wonder how many people are like me and haven't actually, properly turned to it as a consenting reader. Plus of course this edition is highly boosted by the Anthony Browne artwork. These aren't new illustrations, they've been around since the 1980s, but they are brilliant. They pick up on things you wouldn't expect, and take other things to an extreme that even Carroll didn't reach. There are incredible details – the watch winding mechanism on the side of a jam tart, a crocodile head as a landscaped headland; objects and characters have their real, hidden side shown to us in their shadow form. The Magritte styling only adds to their timeless appeal.

And in true Magritte style, ceci n'est pas un livre. C'est une blague – a trick. The new clothes the emperor has worn for 150 years. I'm calling him out on them, but I still think you need to read the book to take your side in the debate, and if you're going to do it you really couldn't do better than this edition.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Turn to The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra for how this kind of thing should be done - it's oddball and then some, but still brilliant.

Editor's Note

The precursor to Alice in Wonderland, called Alice Under Ground has been in the hands of the British Library and it has now been made available for everyone to browse on their website. This edition is unique in that it was created by Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll's penname) as a gift for Alice Lidell in 1864 and only adapted for publication a year later.

Buy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (150th Anniversary Edition) by Lewis Carroll and Anthony Browne at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (150th Anniversary Edition) by Lewis Carroll and Anthony Browne at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (150th Anniversary Edition) by Lewis Carroll and Anthony Browne at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (150th Anniversary Edition) by Lewis Carroll and Anthony Browne at Amazon.com.


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