Title: Peter Pan
Cover artist: Profusely Illustrated
Genre: Classic, Children’s, Fantasy
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Age Range: Middle Grade
Publishing Date: 2018
Pick up if you like: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and the Disney Peter Pan film.
Trigger warnings: mentions of racism, racial slurs, violence, sexism, death, misogyny
‘Of course Mrs Darling said at once that she would have them’
Peter Pan is a mischievous little boy who can fly, who appears to Wendy and her brothers one night, taking them on an adventure to Neverland.
Not too dissimilar to the Disney film of the same name, Peter Pan follows The boy who wouldn’t grow up as he flies into the window of the Darling family’s nursery one night. Peter lives in Neverland, a fantastic place far from our reality, with his found family of lost boys – those without a mother. Upon meeting Wendy he realises she would make a fantastic mother to him and the lost boys, even if it means bringing her brothers John and Michael along for the adventure.
After teaching them to fly (with a little help from Tinker Bell’s fairy dust), Peter takes the Darling children with him back to Neverland. Full of magic, whimsy, and danger, Wendy and her brothers will soon meet Pirates, Mermaids, and more. With Wendy playing mother, and Peter playing father, the children quickly fall into a routine of make-believe while taking part in daily adventures all over the island.
A product of its time
Originally written in 1911, Peter Pan is truly a reflection of its time. Full of misogyny, sexism, racism, and questionable depictions of ‘Native Americans’, this book captures the accepted tone of the time. I found myself able to gloss over a lot due to accepting the period, but there were a handful of times when I did flinch at a description. Truthly this is to be expected, so entering Peter Pan with a warning at the back of your mind is for the best.
The story is dark, moody, full of whimsy, and lacking the overall positive vibe of the well-known Disney film, however, I simply loved this book. At its heart, it is a story of children who have felt abandoned by their mothers, and deep down are in desperate need of a mother’s love. Mrs Darling is an utter delight to read, even when the Darling children do not consider how long they spend away from their parents and the worry they must be feeling. I think this one will be even more magical on a reread, so I plan on doing exactly that in the future.
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