Cheshire Crossing by Andy Weir & Sarah Andersen, 116 pp, RL: Middle Grade
Purchased at Barnes & Noble
With Cheshire Crossing, Weir (author of The Martian and Artemis) and Andersen (Sarah's Scribbles) have assembled the dream team of classic Victorian kid's book girls, grown them up a bit and set them loose on the world, or their worlds - Neverland, Wonderland and Oz, to be precise. The premise for bringing these three together is almost as good as seeing Wendy Darling, Alice Liddell and Dorothy Gale all in the same room. Diagnosed with dissociative psychosis for creating their own worlds, each girl, now in their teens, has spent time in various institutions and sanitariums from a young age, finally landing at Cheshire Crossing. There, Dr. Rutherford informs them that, rather than an institution, they are the the only three "patients" at a research facility. He is well aware that the girls are not insane and hopes to study their ability to travel to other worlds. And, when they are not being studied, Miss Poole, their tutor and nanny, will tend to them.
Each girl has a distinct personality. Alice, the shortest of the three, is bristly and defensive (and also dropping the occasional "#@$%!", always looking for (and often taking) an escape route. With her pixie cut, cropped shirt and cargo-style pants, as well as the fact that she's got a knife on her, Wendy is ready for a fight. Dorothy, cardigan clad and wearing big, round glasses, is thoughtful, observant and has received more than a bit of electroshock therapy back in the states. An impulsive act by Alice lands both her and Wendy in the poppy fields of Oz, setting off a world-hopping chain of events that leads to the Wicked Witch of the West meeting (and falling hard for) Captain Hook and the Jolly Roger sailing into a field near Munchkinland. Along the way, Wendy, Alice and Dorothy also discover that Miss Poole is actually a very powerful witch (who flies with the help of her umbrella...)
Weir and Andersen deliver all the things we love about Wendy, Alice and Dorothy while also running in new directions with familiar story threads. A Peter Pan and Alice meet up makes for a hilarious twist (with a happy ending that some of us were always rooting for) while Miss Poole undergoes some interestingly mysterious experiences of her own. I especially love that both Dorothy and Captain Hook are illustrated with brown skin. The epilogue of Cheshire Crossing seems to leave room for a sequel, should we be that fortunate . . .