Back to the Classics Challenge · Book Review

REVIEW: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Peter Pan
Author: J. M. Barrie

Goodreads Synopsis: It was Friday night. Mr and Mrs Darling were dining out. Nana had been tied up in the backyard. The poor dog was barking, for she could smell danger. And she was right – this was the night that Peter Pan would take the Darling children on the most breath-taking adventure of their lives, to a place called Neverland, a strange country where the lost boys live and never grow up, a land with mermaids, fairies and pirates – and of course the terrible, evil, Captain Hook. Peter Pan is undoubtedly one of the most famous and best-loved stories for children, an unforgettable, magical fantasy which has been enjoyed by generations.

The old favorite, newly repackaged-Wendy, John, and Michael Darling’s adventures in Never-Never Land with Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up. (This one sentence was the whole synopsis for the version of the book I have, so I decided to find a better synopsis for a different version posted on Goodreads, which is what you read above).
Let me preface by saying that Peter Pan is my most favorite animated Disney movie.  I’m not sure why, but I just love the idea of having such a grand adventure.  Part of it may have stemmed from when my 5th grade class got to put on the play (I was the narrator).  We had so much fun preparing for it.  Another reason could be all the different movie versions I’ve seen.  I would be lying if I said my friend Krista and I had never acted out scenes from Hook before (during our sophomore year of college…just sayin’).

I took my niece to see the Theatre 360’s performance of Peter Pan, which was truer to the book than the Disney movie we all know and love, last year for her birthday when it came to Boston last fall.  Unfortunately, the crocodile scared her so we left at intermission.  (Also, Captain Hook did slit a guy’s throat right on stage, which was followed by “what just happened?” courtesy of the 6-year-old boy sitting behind me… I wish I could convey the tone of voice he used because it was hysterical).

So it took me two days to read this (but it could definitely be done in a day if you have the time!).  Anyway,  Disney definitely took some liberties/used artistic license when creating the cartoon.  I feel that Disney made Peter Pan more likeable than he was in the book.  As an adult reading about him, he seemed like a cocky little know-it-all (even though he didn’t know much).  The book was still very enjoyable, though.  There was more in the book than in the movie versions, though there were elements from the book in Hook. For example, in the book the lost boys pretty much forgot their parents and Wendy, John and Michael had begun to forget them.  In Hook, Peter’s son Jack has trouble remembering his parents the longer he stays in Neverland.  Also, the make believe meals were also the same in the book and Hook.   (and I definitely pictured Dustin Hoffman every time Hook appeared).

I enjoyed the narrator though, and how he described the lifestyle.  Especially, Nana.  To me, it seemed that Nana was described as a human in dog form, what with her abilities to take care of the children, etc.

The (half) play that I saw by Theatre 360 was definitely more in line with the book than with any of the movies.

Peter Pan is a fanciful story that I still enjoyed nonetheless.  I think it is one that everyone should read because, let’s face it, we’ve all had that moment (or two) where we wished we wouldn’t grow up.

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9 thoughts on “REVIEW: Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

    1. It was good, but a bit different than I was expecting. Still, though, it’s Peter Pan. Though the multiple mentions of the fact that he had his baby teeth was weird (I Hate teeth). My niece was 8 when I took her (actually, right on her 8th birthday). I was actually surprised at how strong her reaction was to the crocodile, she started crying a bit.

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  1. I’m glad you pointed out that Disney made Peter Pan a more likable character than the book did — I think that was what primarily bothered me about the book, but I was just never able to explain it: I loved the Disney and Hook Peter Pan so much that the book tainted his image slightly (or maybe it just made his child-like nature slightly more realistic??) And I agree, I like how the book describes Nana as a human in a dog body, and I really thought it was comical how Mr. Darling punishes himself in the end for not listening to Nana.

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    1. I agree. I thought the same thing when reading the book, then realized it was the first version made but the last version for me!

      He definitely was more child-like in nature: had to be right, all the good ideas were his, if he doesn’t know what it is no one else can, etc…and of course the (eww) baby teeth. (I hate teeth, especially loose, wiggly baby teeth!)

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