cover image Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll. Philomel Books, $17.95 (126pp) ISBN 978-0-399-22241-2

Publishing a newly illustrated edition of a children's classic is a risky undertaking: Is there really a need, for example, for another excursion down the rabbit hole with Alice? However, when the work is graced with Weevers's elegant watercolors, the answer is a resounding yes. Encountering the sublime cover painting, the reader senses instantly that here is no commonplace Alice : only slightly bedraggled, the plucky heroine paddles valiantly through the pool of tears, with stately birds and a solitary mouse in tow. In this volume Weevers ( The Hare and the Tortoise , Herbert Binns and the Flying Tricycle ) has produced his most sophisticated and lavishly detailed paintings to date. A magnificently liveried, haughty lobster sneers as he grooms fastidiously; a dolorous King of Hearts and his indignant consort preside at a tasty trial, heedless of the courtroom banner proclaiming Amor vincit omnia --love will certainly not conquer this pair. Rendered in a traditional style, unlike the surrealistic approach chosen by Anthony Browne in his recent edition of Alice , these illustrations are set amidst a treasure trove of Victoriana: Alice plummets past a dusty bell jar surrounded by crumbling leatherbound volumes, the Duchess perches on a Chinese oriental carpet beside a tufted leather footstool. This is an Alice to revisit again and again. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)