There could not have been a lovelier sight; but there was none to see it except a little boy who was staring in at the window – J.M. Barrie.
Friends and family who know me well will probably groan at this blog post because they get enough ear ache from my love of Peter Pan in daily life. But, I’m going to write about it anyway as I promised more book posts that were not standard – with a dash of sparkle – reviews.
Ages 0 – 13
Peter Pan to me was always magical: fairies, pirates, pixie dust, flying – it is probably the most magical of all Disney films. Of course, the first version I saw of the boy who never grew up was the Disney version with all the bright green costumes that adorned Peter and Tinkerbell as well as his ginger hair and her blonde hair; Captain Hook in his bright red jacket and his black locks as well as Wendy in her baby blue. Looking back, I could probably tell you in great detail why these colours were used – not only with the original book as a base to go from – but I’m not in university any more, and I don’t need to go off on a tangent…
Hook also played such a huge role in the love of Peter Pan, and I’m sure every person who grows up watching it will say the same. Not only is Robin Williams perfect for the role of the boy who grows up into a man and forgets his childhood, he brings out the childlike features of a boy that I’m sure resides in every single adult, whether we like to admit it or not. Julia Roberts plays a kinder Tinkerbell, and as for Captain James Hook, Dustin Hoffman is amazing as the pantomime baddy. The food fight scene is my favourite scene – the portrayal of a child’s imagination is concrete.
Peter Pan the movie was a massive favourite for my cousin and I – the one with Jeremy Sumpter. We both had a huge childhood crush on him growing up. And it was another version of Peter Pan which was truly magical.
Fast forward to my second year of university. One of the books in my Children’s Literature module was Peter and Wendy which is partly why I chose the module. I remember it being around week five or six that I had to read it and I demolished it. I remember clearly the moment that I fell in love with that book, and it was the sadness of it all.
In the final chapters, Peter sees the world as he knows it crumble around him as Wendy – his playmate and the one girl he may or may not see as more than just a friend – grows up. He is back behind a window, looking through the glass as an outsider, and he forgets his fairy best friend, Tinkerbell, ever existed because she has died; those who die are like they never existed in Peter Pan’s mind. Sorry if that put a huge downer on the Disney movie that we all adore so much, but it was this moment that I realised that not all children’s stories are happy ones. As a literature student, I loved it: the words you read on a page are much different to what the story is telling you.
After that, I never quite forgot the story of the boy who never grew up…
… So much so that I decided to use Peter and Wendy as the basis of my dissertation. At the beginning – throughout the proposal period – that was the only thing I was sure of. I read through my Classic’s copy and highlighted anything and everything that jumped out at me as being important, or useful in some way, which ended up being the majority of my book; so the majority of that particular copy is now orange. Throughout the course of writing that dissertation – which brought me many tears and late nights – I fell more and more in love with this story; the more I read it, the more I found to be tragic yet hopeful, in both Peter’s story and J.M. Barrie’s.
I haven’t picked up a copy to read for a couple of years, although I do have a few copies to choose from as I have started a mini collection of my own, which I intend to grow over the years. I found a copy in Bali airport which has the original play version too, which was how the story was born, so that should be a fascinating read, and something slightly different to what I am used to.
I believe the boy will never grow up because we choose him not to; you know how stories tend to end and then we, as the reader, imagines what happens next, I think we never imagine him as a man because where would the magic go?
What are your thoughts on Peter Pan? Do you love it as much as I do? Have you read the book itself, or do you stick to the films?
What’s your favourite book?
Love, Faye xo