We have been doing our monthly "Books We Love" post over at Enfants Terribles Magazine - this time with an all-time favourite, Alice in Wonderland in a beautiful-beautiful edition from Carlsen with illustrations by another favourite, Tove Jansson.
We love Alice in Wonderland. The idea of falling through a rabbit hole into another world where logic is turned upside down and nothing is as you expect it to be has nourished the fantasy and plays of generations of kids. Mine are no exception. With Frida Viola (6 years) we have read Lewis Carroll's classic story from 1865 in its full lenght, and little sister Molly (3 years) has heard shorter versions. They both love the literary nonsense and the strange surreal characters, and both are also a bit scared in the very best way. When we found out that two of our favourite things - Alice in Wonderland and the wonderful illustrations of Tove Jansson - had actually been combined, we were quite excited.
And it is good, really good this combination. Most of us are familiar with Tove Jansson's heart warming Moomin universe, but in 1966 she also created these beautiful illustrations for Carroll's iconic Alice. For the same reasons as I love Jansson's original Moomin drawings, her illustrations for Alice in Wonderland are just as effective and concise: In a very simple way and with few strokes they precisely mark the feelings and emotions of the characters (anger, surprise, fear, grief, joy...), and still they leave something out - some open gaps and spaces for your own imagination to work in. Tove Jansson is not afraid of depiction was is uncanny, dangerous and sad. And this is productive. These are the images my wee ones study the most - a tiny girl lost in a strange world where nothing is just as it should be is both seductive and a bit scary when you are only 3 and 6 years. In the end everything is good, Alice is back, though maybe not the same Alice as before. The story is wellknown for all of you - but Tove Jansson's illustrations certainly works as a positive addition and a new layer in our reading of the story.