Mary Blair was the concept designer behind the Disney movies Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan. Her was was never intended to be passed along to an audience, it was a semi-rustic design to shape the movies she worked on. Blair was visionary, and I'm so glad Disney decided to showcase her original works. Last year, they published Blair's Cinderella artwork with a retelling by Cynthia Rylant. Who do you hire to follow that one up? Who could possible capture Lewis Caroll's clever sense of humor and world of wonder? No one but Jon Scieszka, of course, and lucky Disney signed him up!
There was some debate over whether or not this fit into the fiction picture book category because it's so much longer than your average picture book, but I'm so glad we got to keep it in our category and even happier that the publisher didn't attempt to cut it down to the length of a regular picture book. Since the artwork was designed for the Disney movie, the text closely follows the plot of the Disney movie and not Carroll's original works.
It had me from the beginning when Scieszka started with, "Have you ever tried to listen to a long schoolbook on a warm, lazy day? And have you ever wondered why anyone would make a book so boring? Then you are just like Alice." Scieszka manages a retelling of Alice that most will find much more approachable than the original.
Now I just hope that 2009 will bring Walt Disney/Mary Blair's Peter Pan! Who would you choose to author that retelling?