Children's Literature · Classics · Modern Fantasy · Review

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Peter Pan by J.M. BarrieSynopsis from the Back Cover:

“Come away, come away!” is Peter Pan’s irresistible call to the Darling children — and to generations of readers who have traveled with him to Neverland and all the secret places in a child’s heart. With a magic and emotional appeal unmatched by any other story, Barrie’s Peter Pan speaks directly to childhood’s dreams and desires with an imaginative genius that evokes both laughter and tears. Peter, the boy who wouldn’t grow up; Nana, the Darling children’s nurse and pet Newfoundland; deliciously dreadful Captain Hook, who is stalked by a crocodile with a clock in his stomach; and Tinker Bell, “quite a common fairy,” who swears like a sailor and is murderously jealous — these characters of startling originality are rich, funny, mischievously insightful, and a joy to read about again and again. The result is a masterpiece of literature that has been working its timeless wonderment on us since it first appeared in 1904.

Review:

The book that inspired Disney’s Peter PanPeter Pan 2: Return to Neverland, and the Tinker Bell movies spins the tale of the immortal boy who dances in the dreams of children and who never grows up, Peter Pan. One night Peter, and a jealous Tinker Bell, finally succeeds in collecting his “mother,” Wendy, and her brothers (note: they are not his pretend uncles). They fly away into the night to Neverland. with the directions. Once they’re in Neverland, Peter introduces them to the Lost Boys, and Wendy becomes their mother. They go on many adventures, though only a handful are written here.

J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is a delightful classic novel. My eyes kept darting to this book, which was sitting at the top of a stack of books. I’ve been seeing more references to Peter Pan and using references (from the Disney movie), so it was time to read it. The characters were sweet, funny and deep. More characters than Wendy and Peter grew and were developed, such as Captain Hook and Mr. Darling. I like this Tinker Bell better than the Tinker Bell that Disney has portrayed in the series of movies with her name. The Tinker Bell’s in both the Peter Pan movie and the book are equal in my preference for her. I like sassy Tink, who can only hold one emotion in her body at a time.

The plot is great. It is unlike plots in modern fantasies. But the ending is heart-wrenching. Spoiler alert: There’s no going back from Peter Pan’s reaction to grown up Wendy, and it’s heartbreaking to see all the little boys grow up and stop believing in magic.

The content shocked me enough to believe that this wouldn’t be considered a children’s book today. Some people would immediately seek to censor the mentions of fairy orgies (one time), Tinker Bell swearing, Peter making the children fit the trees instead of making the trees fit the children, Peter killing Lost Boys who grew up, and children killing in general. However, I think the book is meant for all ages, but a little more geared for adults (due to the impact of some of the themes).

One theme is that all children, but one, must grow up. Another theme is that children are quicker to forget things that have happened once they are in another adventure. This is evidenced by John and Michael quickly forgetting they lived anywhere other than Neverland — they were forgetting they ever had parents. Then all the children, minus Wendy, soon forgot Neverland and stopped believing in fairies.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the novel:

  • “All the world is made of faith, trust, and pixie dust.”
  • “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
  • “Stars are beautiful, but they may not take an active part in anything, they must just look on forever.”

This is a wonderful novel to read at any time, at any age. When you read Peter Pan, remember: “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”

Genres: Classic, Fantasy

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

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