Top Five Alice: A Wonderland Ranking
Alice. Wonderland. It is interesting, is it not, that it is difficult to find anything particularly offensive about the book. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but when you search for possible problems with the text when viewed with 21st century eyes the most you’ll find are thoughts on whether or not Alice could be seen as a colonizer who is ultimately rejected by the people she’s invading. I suspect something could possibly be made out of the caterpillar, but for a book originally published in 1865, it has held up shockingly well over the years. Carroll’s life has been cause for much speculation, of course, but that’s the worst that I’ve seen.
It all got me to thinking. If you had to rank your Top Five illustrated versions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, what would you choose? Honestly, this entire blog premise is probably more of a challenge to Monica Edinger to create her own list than anything else. My choices are fairly standard, all things considered, but I bet over at educating alice she could come up with a really rip-roaring selection. Have at it, Monica! In the meantime, here are my choices from five to my number one.
#5 – Helen Oxenbury
Sometimes referred to disparagingly as “The GAP Alice”, Oxenbury made her Alice a bit younger than the ones you usually see. To my mind, this is the Intro to Alice. Plenty of pictures to get kids through some of the wordier bits and pieces. Plus no one does a slouch like Oxenbury.
Published by Walker in a signed limited edition in 1999. Plus for Looking-Glass in 2005 Oxenbury won the Kate Greenaway Medal.
#4 – Robert Ingpen
Ingpen goes a bit more cartoonish in this book than with his usual fare. I was pleased to see his take on the Cheshire Cat’s grin. And apparently it’s against the law to draw an Alice dodo with anything but human hands.
Published by Walker Books 2009.
#3 – Arthur Rackham
Not one of Rackham’s more popular books, but I’m more fond of his Alice than many others. She just seems to be her own person, with a distinct personality. She just oozes practicality. The cat was a surprise. I don’t think Rackham did many cats.
Published by Heinemann in 1907.
#2 – Barry Moser
Moser’s one of the few that I own and I treasure it. I know that when he illustrated Wizard of Oz he threw in all sorts of little details, like turning the Wicked Witch of the West into Nancy Reagan. I assume he did the same with his Alices, but I can’t be sure. What I do know is that it takes a special kind of perverted mind to turn the Cheshire Cat into a Rex. Well played, sir.
Published in a limited edition by Pennyroyal in 1982.
And now, my number one pick . . .
#1 – John Tenniel
Sometimes you stick with the original for good reason.
First editions published by Macmillan, London: Alice in 1865, Looking Glass in 1871
What are your favorites?
Filed under: Booklists
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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