146 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Yes, there is darkness in Peter Pan - and in Alice, too, and in The Wizard of Oz - and certainly in Felix Salton's Bambi. These books, while written for young people, and which may be described as fantasy, have real plots and real characters who are not perfect. Peter Pan is selfish and stubborn as well as charming because children are not angels - they are little humans. Alice is highly critical of the adults in her dream world - adults who act very arbitrarily and often foolishly, as adults often do. Bambi is about the effects of human cruelty on animals; it deals with death and pain. One of the indications that these are good books, and not merely children's books, is that they can be read at different stages of life with new layers of understanding. You don't have to outgrow them, and they are better than many a book written for adults. The 'real' Pan and Alice and Bambi may not be suitable for the very youngest children, but please don't deprive your children culturally by never giving them anything but Disney's cutesy interpretations. For one thing, Barrie and Salton and Carroll were great writers who used words beautifully and had insightand feeling. Children deserve art as much as adults.
46 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2007
I'm a researcher in illustrated books and I'm interested particularly in Peter Pan's illustrators. I think Hague got the spirirt of the Barrie's story; his pieces translate the text not only as mere fantasy tale for children; they catch the the adult view, and the text's dual audience.
I recommend this publishing for everyone, parents, children and whoever appreciate the art of illustration.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Most people think they've read - or at least know - the story of Peter Pan. The figure of the boy who refuses to grow up has become so infused in Western culture that he's taken on a life beyond his literary beginnings, starring in countless theatrical productions, movies, television series, prequels and sequels, his image used in merchandise (everything from records to peanut butter), and on several famous statues around the world (the most famous being the one in Kensington Gardens) and even providing the namesake behind a psychological condition (we've all heard of people with a "Peter Pan syndrome," referring to those who refuse to accept the responsibilities of adult life). And then there's that *other* Neverland which lends unfortunate connotations to Barrie's work.
The origins of "Peter Pan" are quite muddled, first appearing in an adult's book titled "The White Bird," after which the relevant chapters were transferred into a children's book titled "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens" (which involves Peter's escape from his home into the company of fairies who live in Kensington Gardens). From there, Barrie used the titular character in his children's play "Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up," and later adapted the story into a novel called "Peter and Wendy" - though now it's usually simply titled "Peter Pan."
It's complicated, but the fact of the matter is that if you haven't read this original text of "Peter Pan" by J.M. Barrie, then you really don't know the story at all. The Disney movie, the stage productions (especially those that aren't based on Barrie's own script), or one of the myriad of abridged picture books, simply don't count. And don't even get me started on Steven Spielberg's "Hook." These adaptations don't even begin to scratch the surface of one of the deepest, most intriguing, and darkest children's books ever to be written. Would you believe me if I told you that "Peter Pan" contains scenes of the pirates brutally massacring the "redskins"? That Tinkerbell doesn't live to the very end of the story? Or that Barrie includes a scene that casually mentions fairies returning home from an orgy? And Neverland may well be the land of the imagination, but that doesn't stop Barrie from portraying the Lost Boys from being a rather bloodthirsty group of feral children, who at one stage consider chaining up Wendy in order to prevent her from abandoning them.
And these are just periphery details, not touching on the heavy themes of death and rebirth, the relationship between parents and their children, the loss of innocence and price of adulthood, the pain of loving someone and the terrible passage of time that permeate the entire book. It's pretty dense stuff for a children's book, but so much more rewarding than all the sanitized versions out there that strip the original manuscript of its potency. At its core "Peter Pan" is a modern fairytale, providing hidden commentary on impending adulthood, though simultaneously existing as a celebration of childhood in all its joy, egotism, wonderment and heartlessness. It's not hard to recognize Neverland itself as the landscape of a child's mind, full of adventures and bereft of any parents - a wonderful place to visit...but would you really want to stay there forever? And that's not meant to be a rhetorical question: Barrie seriously asks the reader at times whether eternal childhood is a boon or a curse. Given the circumstances of his own life, I don't think he himself ever made up his mind.
This review is already quite lengthy, and I haven't even given a synopsis yet - though it may seem a bit redundant. Everyone knows that the eternal-child Peter Pan comes to the Darling household one night and spirits away Wendy (and her two brothers) in order for her to act as a mother for himself and the Lost Boys. Without a thought to the grief of their parents left behind, the siblings leap at the offer and soon find themselves showered in fairy-dust and flying through the London air toward Neverland, a place they've visited only in their dreams. Although Neverland is full of beauty, there is danger as well, especially in the dark figure of the notorious Captain Hook, who despises children - especially Peter Pan.
Of course, you probably already know the famous events that follow: the thimble/kiss, the runaway shadow, the ticking crocodile, the house that is built around Wendy as she lies unconscious, the rescue of Tiger Lily at Mermaid's Lagoon, the jealous rages of tiny Tinkerbell and her sacrifice to save Peter's life, and of course the battle-royale on Hook's pirate ship, but if you haven't read the book, I bet you've never heard of the Never-bird, or Wendy's pet wolf, or Mrs Darling's hidden kiss. There are so many treasures in this story, and it's all told in Barrie's fascinating narrative voice, which can go from poetic to whimsical to satirical to philosophical within the space of a few paragraphs.
It's so very tempting to go on about the deep symbolism and meaning inherent in almost every passage in the story (Freud would have a field-day with "Peter Pan", even without the original play's tradition of casting the same actor in the parts of both Mr Darling and Captain Hook) but it is so much more rewarding to discover it all for yourself. "Peter Pan" is one of those rare books that grows richer, more heartbreaking and meaningful with each read.
50 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2004
There is no way I can pass this book up everytime I'm in the bookstore. And I own two different copies of this fantastic tale. Yet, I still pick the book up and flip through the first few pages, smiling ear to ear at the wonderment that makes up Peter Pan.
Peter is a boy that refuses to grow up. He lives in Neverland with his fairy, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys. He visits the nursery of Wendy, Michael, and John Darling to hear Wendy's marvelous stories, and one night loses that pesky shadow. When he comes back to get it and tries to stick it back on, Wendy discovers this new boy in their nursery and soon learns about his amazing lifestyle. Entranced by thoughts of pirates, mermaids, and fairies, Wendy, Michael, and John embark on an amazing adventure into a world so unlike ours.
It's bittersweet, it's insightful, it's magical, it's everything and more a child or an adult could ask for in a story. You won't want to leave Neverland, and some days, you may find yourself staring out the window, looking for that hint of light that is Tinkerbell or the boy effortlessly flying between trees and buildings.
Without a doubt the greatest children's story of all time, one that we've all heard, whether it was through a movie or a stage production. Experience the real magic though, and read Barrie's brilliant novel about the boy who won't grow up.
40 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2005
Tots already ruined by today's sanitization of children's literature will enjoy Peter Pan very little. Like Alice and her Wonderland, this book can be a bit dark and moody and -- gasp! not politically correct. (Political correctness the most moronic bit of fluff and propaganda to have ever wormed into literature.) It can also be fun and witty and just a tad wistful.
But those children and adults who truly understand what it means to be gay and innocent and heartless, will find this to be one of the more fascinating books to have come out of the Victorian/Edwardian tradition. Tinted lightly by the author's deep emotional disturbance, there is a frantic poignancy to Peter's youth and a pseudo-sexual subtext that will fascinate the careful reader, making this a stunning book for all age groups.
This particular version of the story Peter and Wendy (the original and more appropriate title) is lavishly illustrated in a delicate hand. I highly recommend it.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2007
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
How can you go wrong with Peter Pan and Little Golden Books?! My daughter (2 years old) wanted very badly to read her mother's vintage Disney Storybook version of Peter Pan. But we didn't want that 30+ year old book to get messed up, which it would in the hands of a well-meaning but enthusiastic toddler. So I went on a search and found this Little Golden Book that has the identical art and text as the original Disney hardback, but in the inexpensive and toddler friendly Little Golden Book format. Now my daughter can read about Pan, Hook, and Tiger Lillie to her heart's content!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excuse me for sounding crazy and mushy, but this is truly a children's classic of the most fantastic and best sort. Is it any wonder that this incredible story has the fanatic following that it does? I have read this book several times over the course of my life and am still blown away by its sheer power.
Barry writes the story like he is speaking in a conversation with all the whimsy, character, and vocabulary of any educated British gentleman who happens to be privy to the adventures of Pan and his band. Which sadly makes this a little difficult for a read-aloud to first graders (is it just me, or is our society getting dumber and dumber?) Sigh, maybe if they were a grade up. Anyway, it is the very style of writing that instantally grabs you and pulls you to Neverland.
While the story does have a smattering of deep adult philosophies, it is primary in a "What you see is what you get" state that simply tells the story of some children, mad at their father, who fly away to Neverland to have adventures with Lost Boys, Indians, and pirates. And that's that and that is why we love it so: the simple magic of childhood. In fact, the aforementioned smattering of deep adult philosophies pretty much revolve around the longing for the magic of childhood.
Barry also provides wondrous characters--it is interesting to see just how many people are irritated with Peter Pan's cockiness (just as was Captain Hook!). Contrary to popular opinion, they are hardly one-dimensional. Even Hook, while never sympathetic, is shown as a human who is "not wholey evil".
The intertwining mini-plots are also rivaling adult stories in their imagination and intricacy. This is nothing but a fantastic story intended to delight children and maybe provide adults a little reminiscence.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Even more bastardized than Oliver Twist, J.M. Barre's original work of mind-boggling creativity and brilliance seemed to be lost under the Disney cloud until the 100 year anniversary came up, and even then I'm not sure so many people read it--but they should.
The writing is not as complex as Alice in Wonderland--again, the non-Disney version--but the world and characters created here are astounding, vivid, and will no doubt invade your dreams night and day alike.
Perhaps we can blame our v-chip American society for forgetting this great work of children's literature, perhaps our lack of imagination, or the youth of our culture which doesn't reach back to common beliefs in magical worlds that cannot be explained in so many words--nor should. Our fragile sensibilities shunning stories which do not spare us the occassional nastiness of long history or the mythology it was based on, or the stories it fed such as this one.
Our children will not turn into axe murderers for reading Peter Pan, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, or for reading period. Kids who read books which may be too sophisticated for them at the time can only benefit from having the seeds of thought planted in them for later harvesting.
Read the book. Don't see the movie first. And please spare you children the bubble-gum version popularized for so many years in stead of this great classic which is entirely digestible by young minds.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Don't miss out on having a copy of this reissue of the original 1950's version of Walt Disney's Peter Pan. The illustrations are amazing. The color is vibrant. The story is absolutely timeless.
What an excellent book to share with your children!
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2009
I picked up what I thought would be a playful fairy tale and got just that; for I had forgotten about the cannibalistic witch in Hansel and Gretel, about the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid, and about the Wolf in the original telling of Little Red Riding Hood. This is a haunting and horrific tale of abuse and neglect masked with the innocent ideals of childhood. It came to a chilling conclusion and will stay with me for quite a while.
I am quite impressed that the themes in this book were so elegantly masked as to double as a children's story as well as an adult story with very disturbing themes. I will keep my copy of this book, but it certainly won't be the first thing that I read to my daughter out-loud.
I must add that the metaphors the author used, and the sensitivity to language should be celebrated and I do not think it wrong to call this a classic. It is timeless and very real and applicable.