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Lost Boy: the Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan Hardcover – August 5, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3-5 By opening her biography with the magic words Once upon a time, Yolen gives the story of J. M. Barrie's life a fairy-tale tone that perfectly suits its subject. This approach certainly does not gloss over the many tragedies he endured, such as the loss of a sibling or homesickness at boarding school. Instead, the framework is used to shed light on how Barrie used imagination and fantasy to entertain himself and others, especially during hard times. Yolen also provides a detailed account of Barrie's friendship with the Llewellyn Davies family, and how their escapades helped give birth to his masterpiece, Peter Pan. The book's illustrations and layout brilliantly capture the spirit of the text and its subject. A full-page painting faces a page of text, which also features an inset image reflecting the larger one opposite. In addition, each page of text features a quote from Barrie's own works, all of which are carefully chosen to capture the main idea or feeling of the spread. Adams's luminous, carefully composed paintings feel old-fashioned, making them perfectly suited to the text. He also uses light to indicate the key figure in a scene, much like a spotlight in Barrie's beloved theater. A beautiful tribute. Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY
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From Booklist

This handsome picture-book biography presents the life of James Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. Born and raised in a small Scottish town, Barrie grew up writing stories and putting on plays for his friends. When he was six, his older brother David died suddenly. The narrative traces his education through university, his success as a writer, his marriage and divorce, and his long-term friendship with the five Llewelyn Davies boys, first as a playmate, then as a family friend, and finally as their guardian. Adams' paintings provide evocative views of Barrie and his world. Yolen smoothly relates intriguing incidents from Barrie's childhood and adult life without making comments or drawing conclusions. Appearing on each double-page spread, though, are well-chosen, illustrated quotes from Barrie's books and plays, inviting readers to find connections between his life and his art. Lists of Yolen's sources and of Barrie's major works are provided. The book ends by noting Barrie's ongoing legacy to children by giving the copyright to Peter Pan to London's Great Ormond Hospital for Sick Children. Grades 2-4. --Carolyn Phelan
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 970L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers; 1St Edition edition (August 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525478868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525478867
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #943,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jane Yolen's newest offering is a lovely picture book biography of J. M. Barrie, author of many works but known today primarily as the creator of the beloved character of Peter Pan. This new book is particularly timely because this year is the 150th anniversary of Barrie's birth.

Yolen's book begins, appropriately,"once upon a time," with Barrie's birth in a small town in Scotland in 1860. Born into a large family that lived in a tenement row house, Barrie liked to talk about his poor beginnings; Yolen points out, however, that he exaggerated his humble start, and his family was in fact "moderately prosperous" for the time. We can see the inspiration for Wendy in Barrie's mother, who gathered the children around her in the evening to tell stories and read aloud from library books. Young Jamie is a storyteller from the beginning, writing stories and plays that he would read to his mother or act out with his friends. When he is sent away to school, he becomes enamored of the theatre, starts a theatrical society, and becomes determined to become a writer.

Within a few years after he completes his education, his stories begin to be published in many magazines, and he became well-known. But as Yolen writes, "he was still as small as a boy, just over five feet tall...he hardly looked famous." While walking his enormous St. Bernard dog, Porthos (coincidentally one of the Three Musketeers!) Jamie meets the Llewelyn Davies boys, whom he begins playing with in the park, making up wild stories about pirates, Indians, fairies, islands, and more. This family became very close to Barrie, but it was not for another six years or so that he began writing his masterpiece, Peter Pan.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Matthew Barrie's character Peter Pan is a favorite among children (young and old) and readers will enjoy learning how events in Barrie's life led to the creation of the magical boy who never grew up. Every page displays a quote from one of Barrie's works that emphasizes the influence that Barrie's life had on his novels and plays. The beautiful illustrations invite the readers to see Barrie's playfulness and highlight his connection to the Llewellyn Davies boys that inspired his greatest work.

This is perhaps one of the best picture book biographies I have read. Many times biographies provide facts in a dull manner; this book is very much the opposite. Jane Yolen writes Barrie's life story as if it were a fairy tale, she even begins with `Once upon a time'. Although Barrie did experience many hardships, Yolen does a nice of job of showing how Barrie overcame those and kept pursuing what he loved, the theatre. The inclusion of quotes from Barrie's works is one of my favorite aspects of the book; it is a nice of way for readers to indirectly connect his life events to his works. Yolen also includes a list of Barrie's works as well as a list of famous actresses (yes, actresses) that played Peter Pan.
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Format: Hardcover
Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan by Jane Yolen follows James Matthew Barrie from his humble Scottish birth in 1860 through his death in 1937. His rise as a successful playwright and enduring fame are due in large part to his most beloved character Peter Pan. Jamie Barrie inherits his storytelling gift from his mother. He begins writing, acting out stories from the Bible and his favorite adventure books, and staging plays at a very young age. As an adult, he plays pirates, Indians, and fairies with the Llewelyn Davies boys in London's Kensington Gardens. Those games and wild stories inspire his masterpiece, Peter Pan. This picture book, published 150 years after Barrie's death, includes a selection of his published works and a list of famous actresses who have played Peter Pan.
Yolen masterfully weaves Barrie's fiction with relevant biographical facts, including quotes from his plays and novels that capture the sentiment of the events she describes. Steve Adams' acrylic-on-wood illustrations create an almost fairy-tale effect. Every page spread includes a striking, full-page illustration of Barrie's life and a 2 ½-inch by 5-inch window into each quote from Barrie's own writing. The result is an extraordinarily complementary pairing of text and art.

Yolen deals with the more difficult aspects of Barrie's life in an honest and age-appropriate manner. These difficulties include the loss of his brother David as a child, Barrie's troubled marriage, and the death of the Llewelyn Davies boys' parents to cancer. As a result, this biography paints a very human picture of Barrie as an individual, yet celebrates his imagination in a way that is sure to inspire young readers' own creativity and encourage them to explore and appreciate the actual writing of J.M. Barrie.

Laurie A. Gray

Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XVI, No. 3, June 2012); used with permission.
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Format: Hardcover
James Matthew Barrie always claimed that he, as the seventh child born into the family, was barely noticed when he arrived. He often "talked of their poverty and how little they had," but in fact the family was fairly prosperous. His father was a hand-loom weaver, but it was true that there were seven children in the family. Perhaps he inherited his big imagination and ability to weave a story from his mother, Margaret. As a young boy he loved to scribble out stories he would entertain his mother with. The family misfortune happened when he was only six. His brother David, the "golden boy" of the family, died after a fall on the ice.

Things didn't ever feel like they would be the same again, but Jamie soon found solace when he put on plays adapted from Bible stories. He and his friend, Robb, wrote together, bringing happiness into their lives. For a while his life was in upheaval, but when he arrived at Dumfries, he truly began to blossom and began to write several stories based on "penny dreadfuls." His "first taste of celebrity" came when his play "Bandelero the Bandit" was produced. A clergyman proclaimed that the play was "gross and immoral." Any other man would have been hurt, but Jamie was actually quite pleased. He was as he claimed, "pencil-thin, inarticulate in company, and with `manners, bull of nails like his boots.'" Would this inconsequential young man ever make it in the literary world or was he simply destined to write nothing better than the "penny dreadful?"

This is a wonderful biography of James Barrie, J. M. Barrie, the man who created Peter Pan. I enjoyed the way this miniature biography unfolded and the wonderful recreation of his life. The book discusses his humble beginnings and his extreme yearning to be a writer.
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