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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn a little about middle-class English family life at the beginning of the 20th century.
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Positive Role Models
The few female characters set the best examples. Wendy is kind, patient, and caring with Peter, her brothers, and the Lost Boys. Tinkerbell is loyal to Peter and saves his life. Tiger Lily is brave and loyal as well.
Violence & Scariness
Before the events in the story, Peter cut off Captain Hook's hand. Wendy is shot with an arrow and believed dead. Children are captured by pirates and told they must walk the plank. There's an attempted murder by poisoning.
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Tinkerbell calls Peter a "silly ass." Native Americans are repeatedly called "redskins," and at one point, Peter refers to them as "Piccaninny warriors."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan is a celebration of childhood and imagination. Magical Peter takes three English siblings across the sky to where he lives in Neverland to have adventures among pirates, fairies, mermaids, wild animals, Lost Boys, and a Native American tribe. However, young readers will benefit from some at-home or classroom discussion about the story's outdated sexist and racist stereotypes. As Wendy plays "mother" to the boys in the novel, she takes on a very old-fashioned motherly role, similar to her own mother's. Native Americans in the book are referred to as "redskins," and once as "Piccaninny warriors." There's a little bit of real violence in the story, and much more threatened violence. Native Americans smoke a peace pipe. Captain Hook smokes cigars. Peter Pan has been adapted for stage, TV, and film, including the entertaining but similarly problematic 1953 Disney version.
Is It Any Good?
This classic fantasy is full of thrilling adventures that spark children's imaginations, but some of the attitudes and language in J.M. Barrie's masterpiece are dated and offensive. Peter Pan is richly complex, inspiring moments of humor, pity, sadness, excitement, and fear. Another fascinating aspect of this novel is the fact that the author occasionally breaks the "fourth wall" by inserting himself into the story. For example, he writes of trying to decide whether to let Mrs. Darling know in a dream that her children are on their way home. This aspect of the book -- along with the archaic ideas and language about gender roles and indigenous people -- make the novel a great subject for home or classroom discussion, as well as an exciting and magical childhood fantasy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.