Wonderland by Tommy Kovac. illustrated by Sonny Liew
First Published: Mar. 17, 2009
Genre: ya, children, fantasy
Mary Ann ...
Reason for Reading: Cybils Award nominee. I've also been meaning to read this since I first heard about it.
Summary: The book is set in Wonderland sometime not too long after Alice has left. Here we meet Mary Ann, the girl whom the White Rabbit mistakes Alice for when she first arrives. We find out Mary Ann is the White Rabbit's maid and follow her through an adventurous day where she uncovers the fiendish doings of the Queen of Hearts.
Comments: While the book does have its plot running through, I found the main focus to be on the characters. Kovac explores Wonderland and its famous inhabitants such as the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat in such great detail and in a more up close and personal way than the original book provides. It is great fun watching these characters come to life in this way. (Though I do question why Jabberwocky and Tweedledee & dum from Through the Looking-glass have been placed in Wonderland.) Kovac has done a magnificent job of keeping the essence of Carroll's witty, off-the-wall sense of humour. Sonny Liew's illustrations are wonderful and wacky; based on the Disney images (since this book is published by Disney Press) they are instantly recognizable yet he changes them enough to take away the cuteness and there is actually an aura of creepiness to this Wonderland.
To thoroughly enjoy the book, one must know the original Alice in Wonderland story as many references are made to it and it's assumed you know who all these characters are. I don't think reading the original book is necessary, any version or the Disney movie would suffice. I'm not really sure why the book is recommended for ages 13+; my only guess would be the maturity to fully comprehend the humour and the underlying tones.
I really enjoyed the story. It was a quick afternoon read. The eventual ending for Mary Ann is quite unnerving. I've never been a fan of the Cheshire Cat and to see his true colours (in my mind) brought to life so well was a delight ... and slightly eerie. This is a book that just pulling it off the shelf and looking through it is going to make you want to take it home with you. I say it's worth it. I suggest the book would make a great gift for a young teen or tween girl who already knows the Alice in Wonderland story.