Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by famed "dot" artist Yayoi Kusama

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

You must have some trepidation when you set out to illustrate a story as iconic as Alice in Wonderland. What effect can you offer that isn't already achieved by the classic words themselves? From the myriad images contained within the story, how do you choose what to illustrate and what to leave out? And when everyone's idea of Alice is already so wrapped up in the Disney version, can you really expect anyone to embrace your vision instead?

Thankfully, Yayoi Kusama doesn't shy from the task and in the process has accomplished something beautiful and thoroughly undisneyfied. The illustrations aren't designed to help you visualise Alice's world as if it were real, but rather to exhibit it in all its un-realness. Kusama's dreamy polka dots pattern each page while bold colors and abstract mosaics challenge everything you thought you knew about Lewis Carroll's story. Frequently the illustrations require a double take: are you looking at something that's close and microscopic, or far away but gargantuan? Even the text of the story is welded into Kusama's artistic vision, growing and shrinking, hiding amid the illustrations, getting eaten by fish and winding around mushrooms. The book just gets curiouser and curiouser.

"Begin at the beginning," the King tells Alice in the story, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop." Easier said than done, King – because with such lush illustrations on display, reaching the end isn't a guarantee of anything. It's only going to make you want to go right back to the start.

– Damien McLaughlin

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll (author) and Yayoi Kusama (illustrator)

Penguin UK

2012, 192 pages, 7.5 x 8.8 x 0.9 inches

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