Saturday, 14 February 2015

Enter Wonderland

Well I was going to continue the new tradition started in January and write about new books for the month, then it was going to be Valentines read but then a lovely pile of Alice in Wonderland books arrive on my desk so I must tell you about these instead!

2015 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of the book and fans old and new are in for a treat.

But first for some history.  It was 1863 when Charles L. Doodgson met Alexander Macmillan, Macmillan fell in love with Alice and agreed to publish the story.  From 1865 to 1900 there were no less than 9 editions of Alice including revised English editions, French, German and Italian translations too!  The two men continued to be friends too.  Now, 150 years later Macmillan are still publishing Alice.  What you may not know is that Alice was commissioned by them, her iconic blue dress, blond hair and band came from them.

For a very special anniversary comes a very special selection of books, from heritage collectible editions to newly imagined works there is a whole new range featuring something, quite literally, for everyone.

You may know that Alice was inspired by a real life friend of the author and took two and half years to write the story but did you know that it is now one of the most iconic of children's books?

There is Alice In Wonderland the Little Folks edition with its big print and glorious illustrations this is a real treat, a miniature edition, a sixth of the length of the original but every bit as charming if not more.  Sir John Tenniel's colour illustrations, all 32, are a delight and bring the story to life and this book feels extra special because it is from an archive original.  John Tenniel's drawings were originally black and white plates later replaced with colour drawings but by 1911 his eyesight was failing and Macmillan commissioned Harry G. Theaker to complete 16 new plates, these gave Alice her iconic look.  Over the years other illustrators have added to the collection of images creating a wonderful library of prints.

The Little Folks edition is complemented by the equally gorgeous The Nursery Alice which was first published by Macmillan in 1890 and was the first colour edition specially adapted for younger readers,a delightfully simple version of the story for the reader to interact with and pictures to truly engage with, another delight complete with copies of original adverts found int he first book. Enchanting and delightful.

The new paperback Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a charming read, as ever, for those old enough to manage a full book and then for the very youngest reader, not wanting to leave anyone out, Macmillan have produced a very special picture book complete with audio CD which is read by one of the Downton Abbey stars!

Alice in Wonderland Down the Rabbit Hole has the essence of the story simplified into picture book form by Joe Rhatigan and Charles Nurnberg with illustrations by Eric Puybaret.

This is a magical story, a magical version of an enduring classic and another fabulous title from the 150th anniversary collection that would do well to be added to the shelf.  For the very smallest reader the Macmillan imprint Campbell books will include Alice in their Busy series with tabs to pull making Wonderland come to life for its readers.

Anyone wanting to know more about Charles L Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll will not be disappointed either for there will be two titles The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll: Anniversary Edition is wonderful for enthusiasts and for biography fans a biography by Morton N. Cohen will tick the box.

Need a small gift for family and friends?  Look no further than What Would Alice Do?: Alice's Guide to Life with inspired quotes.

Alice day, Sunday 4th July will be a day of celebrations, there will be events galore and activity packs for libraries, bookshops and schools.  Visit the website and the Facebook page

Perhaps the piĆ©ce de resistance however is the hardback gift edition, The Complete Alice which you will need to wait until June to get your hands on.  This volume will contain both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass with some archive material, a foreword by Philip Pullman and illustrations by all the contributors.

In fact the whole collection is a delight, each book different, a new take on the story and a new way to engage with it, so go on, splash out and treat yourself to them all!

Let us know how you plan to celebrate this very special anniversary and send us your pictures too and we will compile a special report to feature them all.

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