Judging A Book By Its Cover: Las Aventuras De Alicia En El Pais De Las Maravillas

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I do purchase special editions of books and multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

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Judging A Book By Its Cover: Alice In Wonderland (XV)

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

I saw this edition on Instagram a while back and made a note to try to find it, then forgot about it. Several months ago, the owner (@ursula_uriarte) posted details on her account and I was reminded of how much I wanted a copy. She suggested I contact the author, so I did and I was able to purchase a signed edition! Apparently, she had a Kickstarter for these a while back and had some leftovers. So happy to have this edition, as I’m wild about the art style. I wish I could frame, like, every picture. The illustrator is Tanika and this was printed in 2015 by MSK GmbH (Germany). My edition also came with a PDF copy which I selected German for because even though I can’t read it, it’s nice to have in the author’s native language.

Book Review: Furthermore

Furthermore
By Tahereh Mafi

My Edition:
Hardcover, 401 pages
2016, Dutton Children’s Books
IBSN: 9781101994764

Alice of Ferenwood was born without color. In a world where color is riotous and magic is currency, twelve-year-old Alice often feels like she doesn’t belong. When her father goes missing, Alice loses what might have been her only friend. But when a childhood bully comes to Alice for help and lures her in with the promise of being able to save her father, Alice leaves behind all she knows for a land even more strange and magical than her home.

When Mum sent me a picture of this book and asked if I wanted it, I immediately said yes. I knew it was middle grade and strange and the cover was beautiful so I figured I’d love it. It seemed like it would be a take on Alice in Wonderland, especially considering the main character is named Alice. While this book was just as whimsical as Alice, the silly tone and oddball world building lost me so completely that I couldn’t enjoy the story.

I don’t have much to say about this book because it’s hard to describe and most of the time I had no idea what was happening. If you’ve seen Disney’s animated Alice (a movie I still enjoy to this day), Furthermore is very similar in that up is down and left is right and right is wrong and people eat flowers. Alice’s hair and skin are devoid of almost all color and the world she lives in has something called “rainlight” and townspeople use magic that has somehow been compressed into objects that look like buttons as currency. Alice loves to eat flowers and her mother eats hard to find berries to cure her depression and everyone is a vegetarian. I know it sounds like I’m just naming random things from the book, but that’s sort of what reading it felt like.

The land is magic and somehow gives magic to its people, who are born with different gifts. Alice believes her gift is dancing to the music of the land. She’s been practicing and hopes to win the Surrender, the annual ceremony where all children who turn twelve present their gifts and are then given different tasks that will benefit their society in some way. Alice hopes to win the Surrender and earn a great adventure so she can finally leave town and hopefully find her missing father.

I did actually enjoy the idea of the Surrender and it was one of the few parts of the story that made sense. Alice doesn’t win however, but her old rival Oliver presents her with a chance to leave Ferenwood for Furthermore, a strange land that Alice thought was a myth, and search for her father.

Futhermore is even more wild and nonsensical than Ferenwood and their magic flows more freely. It’s a dangerous place as almost all inhabitants are cannibals – they like to eat visitors with magic in order to gain their magic. I have no idea if they actually physically murder and devour people or just do something to gain their magic that also kills them, but if they are truly cannibals that lends a much darker tone to the story that would be out of place with its general silliness.

Furthermore seemed odd for the sake of being odd. Maybe it was because I was somewhat tuned out and thoroughly confused, but I didn’t understand the point of much of what took place in this alternate world. Alice and Oliver were constantly making blunders that endangered their lives because Alice wasn’t open-minded enough to accept the strangeness of Furthermore and Oliver couldn’t be bothered to explain the rules of the world to Alice because the plot needed him to remain aloof.

My favorite part in the whole book was a deliciously described filet mignon, that, of course, the kids don’t eat because they’re vegetarians and Alice doesn’t even know what filet is. Maybe most twelve-year-olds don’t, but I really wanted to eat that dinner.

The takeaway from this book is to embrace your differences and be proud of your skills and keep an open mind in order to better understand others. While that’s a nice message and an important one for young readers, it was really hammered home at the end and it frustrated me that it was the only clear point in the whole book. Maybe if I’d been younger when I read it I might have enjoyed it more. Perhaps, like Alice was at the start of the story, I was too close-minded to enjoy the strangeness of this book. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t an enjoyable read for me.

Stay tuned for a Judging post though – it is a well-designed book and I’m crazy about the cover art.

Visit Mafi’s lovely website here.

Book Review: After Alice

After Alice
By Gregory Maguire

My Edition:
Paperback, 273 pages
2015, William Morrow
ISBN: 9780060859749

Ada has been somewhat overlooked since the birth of her brother, so she manages to wander off and tumbles down the rabbit hole in Alice’s wake.

Unfortunately, since I didn’t enjoy the book and certainly didn’t understand the purpose or theme of the story, that’s about all I have to say about the plot. I’m incredibly disappointed with this book, because I love much of Maguire’s other work and I’m a big fan of Alice as well. I figured I’d be diving into a new perspective on Wonderland, while keeping with the time period.

In a nutshell, what I received was a bland rehashing of the original story, mixed with seemingly pointless chapters about Alice’s sister and Darwin (and maybe some commentary on slavery? I’m not sure) and stuffed to the gills with pretentious vocabulary. Don’t get me wrong, I like to learn a new word now and then, but I have zero patience for books that require me to keep my dictionary handy for practically every page. I gave up my research a handful of pages in.

Ada should have been an engaging character – she’s very literal-minded, which would be a challenge in Wonderland, and she also suffers from a disability. Yet, moments after falling down the rabbit hole, Ada no longer needs the apparatus that helps her walk and she soon stops being puzzled by all the nonsense surrounding her and moves through the crazy world with little to no difficulty. As a result, she became  as bland as the rest of the cast.

Ada is essentially following Alice, visiting all the main characters that appear in the original book (which, I’ll admit, while I do collect it, I prefer the Disney movie over Carroll’s text), but none of the scenes felt fresh or reimagined in any way. It felt more like a vague tour of popular Wonderland hotspots and I vacillated between bored and confused while reading.

When we’re not reading about Ada, we’re stuck listening to Lydia complain about her life and try to flirt with some guy (though she really seemed annoyed with him) and those chapters were even worse than Ada’s. I’m clueless as to why Lydia was the other main character, because I don’t think she had much depth, nor do I think she added to Alice’s backstory.

Bottom line, I hated this book. But it was so dull and confusing that I couldn’t even build up any hatefire for it. I don’t like to feel that way about something from one of my favorite writers, but I have to be honest. I almost didn’t finish this book, but I bought it new and the cover was pretty and it was Maguire so I pushed through. But I wouldn’t recommend this book for fans of Alice or Maguire. If you haven’t read any of his work and you enjoy fairy tale retellings, I highly recommend Mirror Mirror or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister instead.

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Alice in Wonderland (XIV)

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

This is the lovely 150th anniversary edition from the Penguin Deluxe line. It’s smooth and creepy and has deckle edges and weird images and I love it. ISBN: 9780143107620.

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Alice In Wonderland (XIII)

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

I forget how this edition came to my library…but it’s great. I love the art style on the cover and on the inside it’s semi-annotated, giving children some vocabulary words and their meanings. It’s from 1970, published by Classic Publishing Corporation, as part of the Education Classics Library,  and it’s unabridged! 

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Alice in Wonderland (XII)

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

I, like every other Alice hoarder, had to have the Rifle Paper Co. anniversary edition of Alice in Wonderland. So I  made it happen.  It came out in the fall of last year, illustrated by Anna Bond, published by Puffin, ISBN: 9780147515872. It’s faaaaabulous and I love it.

Nyeaaahhhh!!

poor Bill!

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Puffin Chalk Classics

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

I stumbled on these pretty little things at HomeGoods for about $5.00 each and I couldn’t resist! Of course I was going to buy Alice, but I decided I might as well grab Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz too because they made such a nice trio. There are other books in this series, but these were the only ones the store had. They’re tiny, not much longer than my hand, and totally adorable. They have deckle edges and Alice and Oz have a few little illustrations too. Published by Puffin in 2013 and 2014. Alice ISBN: 9780147510983, Oz ISBN: 9780142427507, Peter ISBN: 978.0147508652.

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Alice in Wonderland (XI)

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

Don’t think you’ve seen the last of my ever-growing Alice collection! This is one of my favorites (if you can pick from a collection that’s made entirely of favorites) and it’s a fantastic pop-up book! This is a Little Simon edition from 2003, illustrated by Robert Sabuda. It is abridged, of course but it does a wonderful job of highlighting popular parts. ISBN: 9780689847431.

This is probably my favorite part…

Judging A Book By Its Cover: Alice in Wonderland (X)

This is my weekly post where I highlight and appreciate cover designs and the general physical appearance of books. We all judge book covers to some extent. I can’t say that I’ve ever decided against a book with terrible cover art if I liked the sound of the plot, but I have purchased special editions of books, or multiple editions of books based on their cover art. If book covers didn’t matter, publishers wouldn’t put out so many beautiful editions!

It’s that time again – where you wonder just how many copies of the same damn book I have! This is my latest addition to my Alice hoard and I couldn’t resist it at a mere $10! It’s a Barnes and Noble edition, leatherbound (or whatever material is close to that), with colored end-papers and illustrations by Tenniel. It’s soft and lovely and I’m glad to own it.