Macmillan Children’s Books has lined up a series of events, partnerships and book trade activity for its annual Alice Day, which in 2021 marks 150 years since Lewis Carroll's Alice Through the Looking Glass was published.
To mark the milestone, illustrator Chris Riddell has brought his own style and a 21st-century approach to the book, using Sir John Tenniel’s drawings as inspiration. Riddell’s full-colour illustrated edition, published by Macmillan last week, follows his reimagining of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, released in 2020.
Across the UK, 125 independent bookshops have received point-of-sale packs, including posters, character standees and activity packs promoting Riddell’s new book.
In Oxford, where Carroll’s story originated, Alice Day activity started early with a Riddell virtual event at Blackwell’s on 26th June. Over the Alice Day weekend, festivities continue with a free day of fun on 3rd July at the bookshop, including appearances from the White Rabbit. Riddell will also take part in a free “draw-a-long” virtual event in conversation with author Cerrie Burnell at Oxford's Story Museum at noon on 3rd July.
From London on 4th July at 7.30 p.m., there will be a live virtual drawing and storytelling performance event with Riddell and actor Samuel West at the British Library. The British Library is also working with Macmillan on a small display of material in their Treasures Gallery that will run in December, marking the original publication date for Through the Looking Glass.
Macmillan has also partnered with Mr Dilly Presents for a new online show taking children and families on a journey to Wonderland. It is being streamed in an hour-long version, with a Q&A, directly to families around the world at 1 p.m. on 4th July. The online show is also being shared with UK libraries via Libraries Connected, giving them access to the film for free for 14 days from when they sign up. The first 50 libraries to sign up will also receive a set of Macmillan's two Alice books for their library shelves.
Throughout the summer holidays a new partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society will see families transported down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass at five of its gardens.
The V&A opened its doors on its exhibition, "Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser" on 22nd May and Macmillan has loaned the electrotype plate for poem "The Mouse’s Tale". Riddell also has two illustrations from his 2020 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in the exhibition—Alice and the White Rabbit, and his newly interpreted Mad Hatter.
Elsewhere, the Lewis Carroll Society has launched a writing competition to commemorate the anniversary and celebrate the author’s creativity. People of all ages are invited to write a missing chapter for either Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass, using existing characters and scenes or creating new ones. The closing date is 3rd July.
Macmillan is also highlighting the chess theme in Through the Looking Glass and working with charity Chess in Schools and Communities, with their Chessfest weekend. On 16th July, 300 children from 30 inner-city schools across the UK will take part in a day of chess fun and on 18th July a free and public chess festival is being held in Trafalgar Square, with people encouraged to dress up as Carroll’s book characters.
Alyx Price, associate publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books, said: “Our partnerships this year have proven to us once again that Alice is a huge part of our cultural fabric. At one level, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are fantastic and fun stories that we all know and love. On another, the points that Carroll makes about our world, who we are and how we connect with others are perhaps more relevant to us today than ever. We are delighted to publish Chris Riddell’s new Alice with his reimagined illustrations, and we want to thank our partners for their enthusiasm and working with us to engage a whole new generation with Alice’s adventures.”
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