J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan

Marian McHugh penned this review.

Peter Pan is a classic tale that has been enjoyed by many generations since its original publication in 1911. Barrie originally wrote Peter Pan as a play around 1903 but due to its success Barrie rewrote his play as a story. The most popular version of the story now would most probably be the animated Peter Pan produced by Walt Disney in 1953, which is the format with which most children are now introduced to Peter Pan. Though not a perfect retelling of the original story by James Matthew Barrie it is still a very good adaptation, with the usual musical score and comedy we have come to expect from the Disney studios. The rights to the story are now owned by the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital to whom Barrie donated all the royalties before his death.

For an interesting variation on Peter Pan, see peter & wendy as performed by Johnny Cunningham. Jo who reviewed it notes, ‘…rich montage of songs and sounds combine to bring the listener to the world of Neverland to retell the story of Peter Pan and Wendy. This music was used in a theatrical production of Peter Pan, using puppetry, light, and shadow to create the magical world of J.M. Barrie. The magic begins with a bit of narration, ‘All children grow up. They know they will grow up…’ This is followed by a plaintive melody, carried by Seamus Egan’s haunting flute and accompanied by the rich strains of Jay Ansill’s harp. As more instruments enter, the melody carries the listener away to the day Wendy met Peter Pan. The rest of the story follows, without narration, told solely through the music.’

The story of Peter Pan begins with the young Peter losing his shadow and in retrieving it he meets Wendy, a young girl who has always believed in his existence and tells the most wonderful stories. The adventure begins with Peter Pan teaching Wendy and her brothers, John and Michael, to fly. Before they know it they are flying to Neverland where the Lost Boys live and never grow up. Of course all is not wonderful in Neverland, there is the band of pirates led by the evil Captain Hook with whom the boys and Wendy have to contend.

This particular edition has been wonderful illustrated by Greg Becker, using his usual medium of acrylics and India ink. These illustrations remind one a little of those created by the animators at the Disney studios though they definitely have their own style and individuality. Illustrations are both in colour and black and white and can be found as full-page illustrations as well as small pictures throughout the text. I would have liked to see a few more illustrations, especially for when reading the story to young people.

This is a strongly recommended edition of Peter Pan. It is faithful to the original text and is complemented very well by the imaginative illustrations of Greg Becker, which bring to life the story by J.M. Barrie.

(ACC Children’s Classics, 1998)

About Diverse Voices

Diverse Voices is our catch-all for writers and other staffers who did but a few reviews or other writings for us. They are credited at the beginning of the actual writing if we know who they are which we don’t always.

It also includes material by writers that first appeared in the Sleeping Hedgehog, our in-house newsletter for staff and readers here. Some material is drawn from Folk Tales, Mostly Folk and Roots & Branches, three other publications we’ve done.