"All children, except one, grow up." Thus begins a great classic of children's literature that we all remember as magical. What we tend to forget, because the tale of Peter Pan and Neverland has been so relentlessly boiled down, hashed up, and coated in saccharine, is that J.M. Barrie's original version is also witty, sophisticated, and delightfully odd. The Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael, live a very proper middle-class life in Edwardian London, but they also happen to have a Newfoundland for a nurse. The text is full of such throwaway gems as "Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter Pan when she was tidying up her children's minds," and is peppered with deliberately obscure vocabulary including "embonpoint," "quietus," and "pluperfect." Lest we forget, it was written in 1904, a relatively innocent age in which a plot about abducted children must have seemed more safely fanciful. Also, perhaps, it was an age that expected more of its children's books, for Peter Pan
has a suppleness, lightness, and intelligence that are "literary" in the best sense. In a typical exchange with the dastardly Captain Hook, Peter Pan describes himself as "youth... joy... a little bird that has broken out of the egg," and the author interjects: "This, of course, was nonsense; but it was proof to the unhappy Hook that Peter did not know in the least who or what he was, which is the very pinnacle of good form." A book for adult readers-aloud to revel in--and it just might teach young listeners to fly. (Ages 5 and older) --Richard Farr
--This text refers to the
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-This series entry presents Barrie's original text, minus a brief section in the first chapter in which Mr. and Mrs. Darling discuss whether they can afford to keep their three offspring. This omission is curious, since many of the author's asides to readers, which could keep students of psychology busy for years, remain. Nevertheless, the story of a boy who doesn't want to grow up and the three children who experience and abandon Neverland has achieved nearly archetypal status, so fresh editions of this 1911 story deserve attention. In this handsome volume, Edens has compiled artwork by more than 16 known illustrators (acknowledged at the conclusion). There are additional unattributed works, as well as art from playbills and posters-all spanning the years from 1904 to 1934. The presentation encompasses the willowy sprites of Arthur Rackham; the Kewpie-doll portraits of Wendy and the lost boys by Roy Best; the black-and-white realistic drawings of original illustrator, F. D. Bedford; and the romanticized watercolors full of fabric and embracing figures by Alice Woodward. Children who are used to suspending their disbelief amid an ever-changing string of virtual images and adults interested in early editions will enjoy the variety. Yet, despite the carefully considered design, there will be children who find the lack of a consistent look for the main characters disconcerting. Give those readers the edition with Scott Gustafson's striking oil paintings (Viking, 1991).Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.