Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew

Wonderland written by Tommy Kovac and illustrated by Sonny Liew
published January 2008 by Disney
160 pages, YA 

Told through the voice of Mary Ann, the White Rabbit's housemaid, this graphic novel picks up where Alice's story ends. Mary Ann is compulsive about her cleaning, after all, she is a maid, and that is precisely what amused me so much about this book. While Wonderland is the same as Carroll's original creation with appearances from the Cheshire Cat, Queen of Hearts, the Jabberwock, and others, it's Mary Ann's docile personality that grounds the ridiculous happenings of the story - and I love the contrast.

The story begins with Mary Ann frantically trying to launder a spot off her apron because she detests uncleanliness and insists on a crisp, clean outfit. She is late in attending to the White Rabbit, who is oblivious to the fact that the Queen of Hearts is after his head for associating with the Alice Monster and who is about to show up at his door. After the Queen barges into the White Rabbit's house and accidentally dirties Mary Ann's now clean apron, Mary Ann bops her on the head in a fit of rage and must flee to safety with the White Rabbit. Thus, their adventures begin.

The illustrations in this book are pencil drawn and digitally inked - with magical, muted yet vibrant colors to convey all that is Wonderland. I could flip through (and smell - oh, how good they smell!) the pages all day every day; they are that pleasing to my senses. The story itself is suffused with Carroll's witty, wry humor that will be appreciated by teens and adults alike. At parts, I could not suppress my giggles of delight. Mary Ann is such an ordinary character in a world of chaos, peculiarity, and indulgence. And of course, that is why I love her and the comedic genius of Kovac. I would recommend this book to just about anyone.

I expect that there will be renewed interest in Carroll's original tale as well as the myriad of spin-offs and retellings since Tim Burton's version will entrance us all come March 5, 2010. I might just have to re-read the classic myself! 

Link love:
 
Natalie

6 comments:

Caroline said...

This sounds so interesting! I love books that play in the spaces of other works, and Alice in Wonderland is so rich for that. I'll keep an eye out for it!

Jan von Harz said...

Natalie, You really do have a way with words. I just love reading your reviews. This book sound delightful.

Laura (Reading and Rooibos) said...

I remember seeing this one in the CCB when it came in. It really did look delightful! Your wonderful review has reminded me that I need to pick it up sometime. Thanks! :)

Nymeth said...

Thank you for the link love! I see your point about how Mary Ann offered a contrast to the surrounding chaos, but sadly I just couldn't connect with her. I absolutely adored the art, though!

NatalieSap said...

Caroline - Definitely! Revisiting Wonderland was a treat. :)

Jan - Thanks! When a book strikes my fancy, I can't help but to gush.

Laura - The CCB is where I first saw it too!

Nymeth - No problem. I did notice that you two weren't fans of Alice, but everyone has a different reading experience, which is why I love the idea of linking to other reviews (which I got from you, by the way). :)

millymarie said...

I cannot believe I have not heard about this wonderful book through the eyes of Mary Ann. One of my favorite Alice scene's is when the White Rabbit mistakes Alice for Mary Ann. Great review and thanks for sharing. I'm adding this to my wish list right away! ;D

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