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I have loved the writing of Lewis Carroll since reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a child. But I was an adult before I really was able to appreciate his humor and true brilliance with words. The Hunting of the Snark is no exception to Carroll's usual cleverness and is packed with nonsense and fun.

I recently discovered that the poem was originally published with illustrations in 1876. The version I grew up with was part of an anthology and thus sadly picture-less. However, I've now seen the illustrations and in my personal opinion the originals are a bit on the scary side (everyone but the bellman has massive heads and exaggerated features).

Original illustration by Henry Holiday. Scary scary.
I am happy to say, that The Hunting of the Snark was recently re-published by Macmillan Children's Books with beautiful new (non-scary) illustrations by children's laureate Chris Riddell.

I loved re-reading the poem alongside Riddell's imaginings of the story. The illustrations perfectly fit the absurdity of the poem, while also being in a style that will appeal to a younger audience. Each character is given a unique visual personality which helps the reader keep everyone straight. The beaver particularly caught my fancy.

Riddell doesn't just illustrate the poem. Like an actor putting a personal spin on a Shakespeare character, he manages to add his own flair by not only illustrating the story, but adding his own mini sub-plot into the images. (I won't spoil it, but I will say that the baker might not be exactly what he seems!)
I loved this image.

While the original illustrations never included an image of the snark itself, in this new version, we get not only to see what a snark looks like, but also a bandersnatch and a jubjub. What more could you ask for, really?

Not at all how I pictured a snark. Not even how I pictured a boojum.
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
   Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
   A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
   Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
   "They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
   But we've got our brave Captain to thank
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best—
   A perfect and absolute blank!"


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