‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ book review: Modern illustrations update classic fantasy


The elegant new edition, with artwork from Spanish artist Julia Sarda, will delight any and all fans of Lewis Carroll's fabulous world

John Millen |

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Julia Sarda

Published by Macmillan/Two Hoots

ISBN 978 1 5098 9758 2

It’s a hot summer day in the English countryside, and Alice is sitting with her elder sister on the bank of a river. She is bored and sleepy when she notices something very strange.

A big, white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and holding a pocket watch runs past, talking to himself. Alice gets up and follows him, as he disappears down a rabbit hole. Alice climbs in and suddenly finds herself tumbling head over heels down a deep, dark well.

When she finally lands, Alice is in a big room with locked doors of different sizes. She finds a small key which fits a door that is much too small for her to get through. But when she opens the door, she sees a beautiful garden on the other side. Then, on a table, she sees a bottle labelled “Drink me”. Alice uncorks the bottle and takes a long swig.

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And so begins one of the most famous books for children ever written. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson published Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pen name of “Lewis Carroll” in 1865. The individuals whom Alice meets in the fantasy land on the other side of that small door have become classic characters that both adults and children recognise and love.

The characters and ideas in the story are a gift to artists, and editions of the book over the years have been illustrated by the likes of Arthur Rackham (in 1907) and Salvador Dali (in 1969). The Disney animated film Alice in Wonderland fixed strong images of Alice, the White Rabbit and the Queen of Hearts in the public imagination in 1951, but that could now change with this classy new illustrated edition.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated by the Spanish children’s book artist Julia Sarda, presents Wonderland as it has never been seen before. This is the classic story, complete and unabridged, but with more than 30 gorgeous and colourful new illustrations in an unforgettably striking style.

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Alice no longer has the blonde hair and blue dress of the Disney classic. Sarda’s version has a neat brown bob and plenty of attitude. The haunting drawings breathe new life into Carroll’s famous tale.

All the creature characteristics described by Carroll are there in Sarda’s highly individual artwork, but everything comes with a freshness that perfectly complements the timelessness of the story and Carroll’s witty and inventive text.

Victorian writers have a reputation for being difficult to enjoy, but anyone who is yet to actually read the original text will be surprised by how entertaining and readable it is, even in the 21st century.

This elegant new edition will delight Alice devotees as well as bring new fans into Carroll’s ever-so-crazy land of wonders.

John Millen can be contacted on [email protected]