I happen to be a Peter Pan fan. Who doesn’t want to be young forever and be able to fly? I love J. M. Barrie’s book and like the movie versions too, even though they take liberties with Barrie’s original story.
You may not associate Peter Pan with the holidays but Barrie’s Peter Pan was written first as play in 1904 before it was a book, and pantomime adaptations of the play are still frequently staged around Christmas in the United Kingdom. Maybe that’s why Peter Pan Live! starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken was shown on television last night. If you missed it, or just can’t wait for the Peter Pan movie with Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard coming out July 17, 2015, I have some read-alikes for you.
I’d read Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s Peter and the Starcatchers (2004) when it first came out but I’d never listened to the audio version narrated by Jim Dale, even though I’d downloaded it last summer as part of SYNC’s free summer audiobook program for young adults that pairs classics with required summer reading books. I’d forgotten how funny it was with all the hilarious characters’ names like Smee (from Barrie’s original book) and other new ones like Slank, Black Stache, Tubby Ted and Mr. Grin (the crocodile). The books in this series might seem a little young but I think they’re classics that can be read and enjoyed at any age.
In Peter and the Starcatchers, Peter, an orphan, is forced to sail from England on the ship Never Land with a group of other orphans, and while on broad he befriends Molly, a young Starcatcher, who must guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.
In the sequel, Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006) Peter and Tinker Bell travel to England to help save the stardust after they discover that Molly and the other Starcatchers are in danger when the sinister being Lord Ombra visits Never Land and appears to be controlling people through their shadows.
Peter and Molly travel to the land of Rundoon in the third book in the series, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007), where evil King Zarboff rules, because they fear that the sinister Lord Ombra wasn’t destroyed in the previous book.
In Peter and the Sword of Mercy (2009) it’s 1902 and it’s been 23 years since Peter and the Lost Boys returned from Rundoon. Since then, nobody on the island has grown a day older, and the Lost Boys continue their friendship with the Mollusk tribe and their rivalry with Captain Hook. Meanwhile, in London, Molly has married George Darling and is raising three children: Wendy, Michael, and John.
In the last book in the series, Bridge to Never Land (2011), Siblings Sarah and Aidan Cooper, ages 17 and 15, know all about Peter Pan‘s secret origin, having read the Starcatchers books when they were younger, but they never dreamed it could be real until they discover a riddle hidden in an old desk. Following the clues while on vacation in England, they find the last stash of magical starstuff on Earth, only to be stalked by the malevolent Lord Ombra.
Geraldine McCaughrean (2008 Printz Award winner for The White Darkness) won the honor to write the official sequel to Peter Pan called Peter Pan in Scarlet (2006). In her book, dreams are leaking out of Never Land, and the only way to set things right is for the Lost Boys, now grown up with their own families, to travel back to Peter’s magical land where they become young again. When they get there they find that Never Land is in worse condition than they could have imagined.
Tiger Lily (2012) by Jodi Lynn Anderson is a reimagining of Peter Pan from Tinker Bell’s point of view as she witnesses the unrequited love that fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily has for Peter after Tiger Lily meets and falls for Peter, despite being betrothed to someone else she hates. When Wendy shows up, Tiger Lily is forced to make a difficult choice.
Capt. Hook: the Adventures of a Notorious Youth by James V. Hart and illustrated by Brett Helquist (2005) describes the youthful adventures of 15-year-old James Matthew, from his days as a young scholar at Eton to his voyages on the high seas as the future Captain Hook. He’s shown here in a sympathetic light unlike the way he’s portrayed in Peter Pan and other retellings.
Tigerheart by Peter David (2008) published for adults, is about Paul Dear, who, growing up in London on his father’s fantastical tales of a magical land called the Anyplace, journeys into this enchanted world after tragedy strikes the family, seeking a great hero, the Boy of Legend, only to encounter the greatest challenge of his life. This book references J. M. Barrie’s books Peter Pan in Kensington and Peter and Wendy (also called Peter Pan) but changes a lot of the original characters.
In Another Pan by Daniel Nayeri & Dina Nayeri (2010), while attending an elite prep school where their father is a professor, sixteen-year-old Wendy and younger brother John Darling discover a book which opens the door to other worlds and to Egyptian myths long thought impossible. A charismatic new R.A. named Peter reveals that their actions have unleashed an evil that is now seeping into their school. At the same time, Peter is searching for the secret of eternal youth in the pyramids of the underworld.
Seeing how many Peter Pan retellings that have been published validates my love for Barrie’s book and the Peter Pan character. I hope there will be even more books written that reimagine the story. It makes me even more excited for next year’s movie.
What are your favorite fairytale characters and retellings?
-Sharon Rawlins, currently listening to The Martian by Andy Weir