A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the original language in Peter Pan is rich, and the story, so much a part of our culture, inspires children to dream. Parents should be prepared to discuss the racial and gender stereotypes, which were typical in 1904, when the book was originally published.
What's the story?
One night Peter Pan flies through the window of the Darling nursery in search of his shadow. There he meets Wendy, Michael, and John, teaches them to fly, and leads them to the home of the Lost Boys in Neverland. "Of all delectable islands," the author says, "the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact, not large and sprawly, you know, with tedious distances between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed." There, among pirates, Indians, and wild animals, the children have innumerable adventures. But Captain Hook, the evil leader of the pirates, is determined to wipe out the Lost Boys, and especially the cocky Pan. He concocts a plan to kidnap the boys and Wendy, poison Peter, and make the boys walk the plank while Wendy watches. But Tinkerbell the fairy saves Peter from the poison, setting the stage for a final confrontation aboard the pirate ship.
Is it any good?
Though some of the attitudes and language in PETER PAN are now dated, this unabridged edition shows clearly why Barrie was considered one of the great geniuses of English literature. By turns dryly witty, poignantly tragic, exciting, and lyrical, the writing is as brilliant as the story, a perfect distillation of childhood fantasies and adult nostalgia. For today's children, listening to the story is a challenge -- it definitely works best as a read-aloud, even for older kids -- but one well worth undertaking.
This tale is every child's birthright, and the watered-down retellings don't do it justice. They miss the complexity and darkness, as essential as the joy and adventure, captured in Barrie's exquisite prose as Peter watches through the window when the children are reunited with their parents: "He had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must forever be barred."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fantasy and reality.
Do you think Peter Pan is living an ideal life?
Do you think he'd be happier with a real family?
Why, after fleeing their families, do the boys want a mother to tell them stories?
Do you look forward to growing older, or are you reluctant like Peter Pan?
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