In an exhilarating convergence of literature’s best female heroines, Cheshire Crossing (Ten Speed Press) is not your mother’s storybook. Sure, it includes romps through Wonderland, Oz and Neverland, but the characters are older and scrappier than ever. Now teenagers, Alice, Dorothy and Wendy have been carted off to asylum after asylum since no one believes their tales. That is, until they all come together at Cheshire Crossing and learn a secret that will risk the security of the whole multiverse.

Written by the visionary Andy Weir (The Martian) and hilarious Sarah Andersen (“Sarah’s Scribbles“), this graphic novel surpasses all tropes and expectations. The character design is inclusive and fresh, the art is cinematic and the banter is hilarious.

Fans of all ages will be surprised and enchanted by the way the girls are familiar yet more intense. They are no longer helpless and bumbling around, but take charge to start their own mischief. And when Captain Hook and the evil Witch of the West show up to challenge them? The girls and their fantastical friends put up a legendary fight.

Nothing here is as it seems: Dorothy is fed up with Glinda for always sending her to stop the Wicked Witch; Alice is flirted with by Peter Pan; and Wendy goes knife to hook with pirates. Each girl starts the story sent away by their families for their oddness and belief in other worlds. They are thought to be delusional: a little girl cannot fly through the air!

However, at the Cheshire Crossing estate, they are believed and encouraged to use their powers and cleverness. They go from outcasts to the best of friends that would risk everything for each other.

Just like Alice through a looking glass, reading allows kids to slip into another world where their imagination is unlimited and their choices matter. Cheshire Crossing echoes this yearning for adventure and importance. You get a sense that the allies Alice, Dorothy and Wendy make along the way are also your own. Kids learn to have faith in their own abilities and wacky ideas.

Above all, this graphic novel is innovative and just plain fun. The coloring is so vibrant and design so detailed that you feel like you are watching a Studio Ghibli film. A field of poppies sparkles, and magic spells seems to spill off the page. A favorite of mine is the table where Alice takes tea with the Mad Hatter. Andersen outdoes herself with the intricate curves of each rose petal, delicious macaroons and delicate porcelain. You can almost smell the tea wafting up at you.

I will make a bet with you that your kid will probably finish this in one sitting. And then you will read it. And then pass it on to someone else. Just like the girls, the adventure is so exciting that you can’t help but take part in each other’s stories.

Cheshire Crossing is available today.

Photo by Aubrie Pick

ANDY WEIR built a career as a software engineer until the success of his first published novel, THE MARTIAN, allowed him to live out his dream of writing fulltime. He is a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects such as relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. He also mixes a mean cocktail. He lives in California.

SARAH ANDERSEN is a 26 year old illustrator based in Brooklyn. She is influenced in by-gone eras of illustration, with a particular love of classic fairytales and mid-century design. Sarah is a recent graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art and her work has been recognized by several organizations, notably three times by the Society of Illustrators.

You can find illustrations here and comics here.