Vintage Reads: Peter Pan

Last updated 10:53 09/08/2014

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PETER PAN By J M Barrie

All children, except one, grow up. So begins the story of the motherless boy who crept into the nursery of the Darling children and took them away on an adventure to Neverland, the place that's second to the right and straight on until morning.

And what an adventure! Rollicking tales of fairies, lost boys, Indians, mermaids, pirates - and, of course, that most fearsome pirate captain of all, Captain James Hook.

Children everywhere will thrill to their exploits, and adults will either pity or be repulsed by the self-centered, selfish child who refuses to remember in his efforts not to grow up.

The Disney movie, based on the play Peter Pan, which was Barrie's first work about the original lost boy, is a saccharine version of the story. Barrie's original book, published in 1911, offers us a darker tale.

Parental angst and guilt, casual deaths and horrific massacres, a malicious fairy who isn't the little ray of sunshine that Disney would have us believe in - all feature in this classic book, which has been loved for over 100 years.

The story of the boy who never grows up is not an easy read. The language is old-fashioned and doesn't sit well with our modern phraseology. It‘s better read aloud, and Barrie's narrative asides and sly commentary about the selfish nature of children, which will sail over their heads at the same speed that Peter circles the pirate ship, will lighten the task. Take the time to read it to a child you love, and you might just enjoy it, too.

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- Waikato Times

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