Renaissance Art and Technology Combine to Tell Alice’s Story Again

Emmanuel Paletz

Are tablet computers revolutionizing the picture book? Ask me again in a hundred years. In the meantime, authors continue to explore the question by experimenting with the ever-willing, always-revolutionary Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. First to be mentioned on this site was Atomic Antelope’s ground-breaking “digital pop-up book”, then David Neal’s animation of classic illustrations. Now we have a third: an unabridged Alice illustrated with images from Renaissance art. The result sounds like it will be interesting:

To portray the colorful events and idiosyncratic characters of this book, Paletz gleans bits and pieces from Jan van Eyck, Joachim Patinir, Quentin Matsys, Hans Holbein, Sandro Botticelli, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Hieronymus Bosch and more, combining them into his signature visual collages which dazzle the eye. Alice is a book filled with riddles, puzzles, illogical delightfulness, and brainteasers.

… Most importantly, Paletz’s layered creation will inspire thought. Readers will fall into musings such as, “What is the historical significance of dressing Fish-Footmen in French Revolution military uniforms and the king as Henry VIII?” The use of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance art extends farther than the eye can see. Paletz pulls from historical events to shape each illustration with significance.

The book is the brainchild of Emmanuel Paletz, a creative consultant for the advertising industry and also the art director for the successful cookbook Art and Cook. Read more about him and about the storybook app on the project’s website. Emmanuel is seeking financial assistance to help bring his ebook project to completion. Donations of any amount can be made on the fundraising site IndieGoGo.

Lewis Carroll Apps for Android

"Lewis Carroll Collection," by Macrender, screen shot

Publish This, LLC, has a new app for the Android Market (Android is the operating system Google developed for non-iPhone smartphones) with the zingy title “Lewis Carroll Collection Books” ($0.99.)  It claims to have the text for AAIW, TTLG, Phantasmagoria and Other Poems, The Hunting of the Snark, and A Tangled Tale. I should have been warned by this app having the impossibly low rating of 1 Star (out of 5) – it appears to simply not work, and crashes every time I try to open a book. Never fear, though, Android users, if you need nothing more than to re-read one of Lewis Carroll’s books on your 4″ screen. There appears to be at least a dozen apps that offer the text of AAIW or TTLG, ranging from free to $4.99 (“Lewis Carroll Collection” by Macrender, which, judging from the screen shot to the right, has very little bling.)

I downloaded another free app called “Alice’s Adventures” by Popbook, which seems to simply be the text of AAIW in 76 screens without any way to jump ahead to a chapter. There’s not even any space between paragraphs. Marvin Huang has a free app called “Alice in Wonderland,” which at least has chapters and the ability to create bookmarks. Ditto for the $0.99 Double M Apps “Alice in Wonderland Ebook.” None of these have any illustrations. (Thank heavens they left in the conversations.) It fascinates me that some young readers’ first experience of Carroll’s masterpiece will be in this format. If anyone has any opinions about any of the other apps, or can compare them to the iPhone Carroll offerings, please comment on this post! Meanwhile, it seems the market is wide open for some creative talents to take on classic children’s books with fancy smartphoney illustrations.

Rovio's popular smartphone game "Angry Birds"

The Atomic Antelope digital pop-up version for the iPad we’ve reported on before has touch screen interactive illustrations, but those are based on the Tenniel. All we ask from our Android Alice in Wonderland apps is that, when the Rabbit sends in a little Bill, we can slingshot him like an angry bird.