As much as I love children’s literature and the classics, this was my first time ever reading Peter Pan! I’ve seen the movie roughly 70 times and I once saw it in a play–where I was rather surprised to see that Peter was portrayed by a grown-up woman–but never read the book! It didn’t disappoint.
I know Peter Pan ‘purists’ aren’t pleased with how Disney portrayed the story, but frankly I liked the book and the movie equally. I watched the movie immediately after reading the book, and I definitely thought the animated version was a perfect summary of the book for younger kids.
Interestingly, I found myself considering how I would read this book to my children and what aspects I would emphasize and what I would be worried to expose them to. Then I realized, the book is perfect as is and it would just be my duty as a mother (far away down the road) to explain certain things to my children. For instance, Wendy’s very keen craving to be a mother and act as a wife to Peter was a bit much in the book. I would trust that my daughter understood that while women do grow up to be mothers that tended to their families, she would also realize that there is more to a woman’s adulthood than that. Let’s hope my example speaks for itself! Similarly, the portrayal of some of the Red Indians would serve as a good learning tool to my kids to explain different races and how everyone is actually equal.
There’s a sweet beauty to a story where a boy has the magical power of unending youth. I love how Barrie is very open about how cocky Peter can be, how Hook has a sensitive side, how Wendy and the boys were rather selfish, and how the Lost Boys craved love. In most children’s books today, the characters are ‘barely’ one-dimensional. It’s a breath of fresh air to see that the protagonist can be good but also have faults while the antagonist isn’t pure evil.
There’s one thing for sure: I can’t wait to share this timeless tale with my future children. Until then, I’m content to curl up and revisit it by myself, dipping my toes in the pool of imaginary unending youth myself.