Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Arriving just in time to read before Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland hits theatres next month, IDW brings us both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in one volume of prose. Calling it “a new twist on an old favorite”, IDW’s edition features a gorgeous cover by Jill Thompson and chapter illustrations by Jenny Frison. For the uninitiated, this is a great introduction to a classic tale. For those of us who’ve treasured this book for years, it’s a nice walk down a familiar road, but the scenery is updated.

First let me start by saying that this book was one of my favorites as a child. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting the story that captivated my imagination so completely that I reread my copy at least once a year during my early years. It was an edition that featured a dust jacket covered with John Tenniel illustrations in beautiful color, and I coveted it on my uncle’s bookshelf until he finally deemed me old enough to take care of it. When I saw the Jill Thompson illustration on this edition, I felt like a kid again. Thompson’s whimsical cover captures beautifully the fantasy world waiting inside, much like her work on Scary Godmother, and most recently, the Dark Horse series Beasts of Burden (which if you’re not reading, go pick it up today).

If you’ve read any edition with John Tenniel’s illustrations, you know that his style was more of character than caricature. Jenny Frison’s chapter illustrations take a softer approach. They are brilliantly painted and give the reader a great visual of what’s to come in the chapter ahead. Just like all other editions of Alice that I’ve read, they feature a key character from each chapter (e.g., Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the White Queen, etc.).

So what of content? Well, this is definitely a no-frills edition. It’s basically the two books, and that’s it. No annotations, no extras (like the instructions on playing chess my old edition has), just the stories. That’s not a knock against the book at all, it’s just something to consider when you’re deciding on whether to buy this book.

The final verdict? If you’re looking for the definitive classic edition of these stories, you want The Annotated Alice. If you want a simple copy to read with magnificent illustrations that offer a couple of contemporary artists’ interpretation of these classic characters, this is definitely for you. I already own the copy from my childhood and The Annotated Alice, but I can see this edition feeling right at home on my bookshelf as well.

Stacey Rader
Senior Reviewer

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