Review Blog

Jun 15 2015

Alice in Wonderland : Down the Rabbit Hole a Modern Retelling by Lewis Carroll

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Retold by Joseph Rhatigan and Charles Numberg. Ill. by Eric Puybaret. Koala Books, 2015. ISBN 9781742761411
The 150th celebration of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll this year, was the impetus for publishing this picture book retelling of part of the classic tale. Young readers are introduced to Alice, the White Rabbit and a few of the animals that inhabit the topsy-turvey world down the rabbit hole, in a way that retains the magic of the original but in a simplified, modern style.
Sitting on the river bank Alice is having an ordinary day when a white rabbit ' . . with pink eyes, a red jacket and a great big pocket watch' runs by. Being a curious girl, Alice follows him and finds herself falling down the hole only to see the rabbit disappear down a hallway at the bottom.
Alice has a disconcerting time either drinking or eating cake, making her smaller or bigger in an effort to access the beautiful garden on the other side of a tiny door. There she meets Mouse, Duck, Eaglet and Dodo before once again following the rabbit and finally coming across the Blue Caterpillar who helps her return to normal size. As Alice wonders how to get back to the riverbank she knows that what lies ahead will not be so ordinary after all.
The phrases which are most remembered from this early part of the story such as 'Curiouser and curiouser!' and 'Oh my ears and whiskers how late it's getting' are retained in this retelling which is but a small part of the whole and certainly much more accessible for young readers than the original.
The richly coloured illustrations help the reader manage the absurdity of Alice's situation as we look down on a shrinking Alice and up at her growing. The animal characters have a human feel dressed as they are in top hats and coats especially the White rabbit as he zooms through the pages focussed on his watch. The background plants and trees have a surreal look with the last page hinting at other characters yet to come with a tea party setting in the distance and a smiling cat perched in a tree.
Sue Keane

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