Bibliographic information: Wonderland. Tommy Kovac. Illustrated by Sonny Liew. Disney Press, 2008. 159 pages. $19.99, ISBN 978-1-42310-451-3
Summary: Mary Ann is the housemaid to the White Rabbit in the wonderful land of Wonderland. She absolutely hates for anything to be dirty, she cannot stand grime, grease, or grit. If something is dirty she will take her trusty feather cleaner and clean to her heart’s content. The White Rabbit is sentenced to have his head chopped off by the Queen of Hearts’ card soldiers because he was found in the presence of the Alice Monster. Mary Ann is forced to flee for her life with the White Rabbit and ends up running into a lot of messes that she is having to deal with. She is not happy with her situation, but she tries to make the best of it, until she is forced to move to the next one. The Mad Hatter, the Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Caterpillar, and the Queen of Spades all play a role in this madness Mary Ann must face.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 10 and up IL: age 10 and up
Review: This graphic novel is based on Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland story, particularly the White Rabbit’s housemaid, Mary Ann. Mary Ann takes us on an adventure through Wonderland that is sure to be remembered, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense. This twist on Lewis Carol’s original story is just as good and just as illogical and whimsical. Every page is done in beautiful full-colored artwork done by Sonny Liew, who has created pictures that are just as senseless as the story and add an extravagance of their own. You still get to see the Hatter and the Hare, the Cheshire Cat, and the lovely head-chopping-off Queen of Hearts. Kovac and Liew work well together and have created a whimsy, nonsensical work of art that is not for those looking for something normal.
Readers’ annotation: The entire cast of Alice in Wonderland comes to life as the White Rabbit and his trusty maid run through Wonderland trying to escape the Queen of Hearts soldiers.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Supernatural creatures are a great addition to books because they help teens understand that and fight their fears. They may project other fears onto the characters and be able to fight those fears. When you have courageous characters like Mary Ann children tend to project themselves onto such characters and use them as a way to get past something that is troubling them in life.
Issues present: People may object to the violence in this book and think that it is not appropriate for the age group. They also might object to the supernatural creatures being present in the novel. However, children can use this book to show them that these things are not scary and are make-believe. There is no such thing as talking animals, and no reason to fear them.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Mary Ann’s character.
Do you like Alice in Wonderland? Then you are going to love this graphic novel…
Genre or subject: Fantasy: adventure, supernatural monsters, violence
Readalikes: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Looking Glass Wars, Pandora Hearts, Alice in the Country of Hearts
Author’s website: http://www.tommykovac.com/
Awards: YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens: 2010; Recommended Reads Folklore in graphic novels (Older kids); Recommended Reads for Teens: Graphic Novels and Manga
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-7161383.xml; Booklist: http://www.booklistonline.com/Wonderland-Tommy-Kovac/pid=3512211; Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4231-0451-3; Kirkus Reviews: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/Tommy-Kovac-89194/wonderland-2/
Why I chose it: I have always been a fan of Alice in Wonderland and thought that this would be a nice twist on the story. The illustrations we magnificent.