Peter Pan Is Grownup Delight

Before I leave 1938, I want to share a review or two of works from that year that didn’t make the bestseller list but achieved fame since.

Peter Pan began life in 1938 as an adult play by the Scot James M. Barrie. Later Walt Disney animated the story. More recently Peter Pan went back to the stage as a musical.

In Barrie’s story, Peter Pan coaxes the three Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael, to fly off with him to Neverland. There they join Peter’s band of lost boys for adventures with pirates, Indians, and the famous ticking crocodile.

The children eventually go home to grow up, but Peter refuses to grow up. He returns to Neverland.

Peter Pan is both more serious and more funny than Disney or musicals make it appear. Barrie uses his whimsical story to ridicule childishness in all its forms.

The Darlings’ calculations of whether they can afford children, the explanation of how mothers put their children’s minds in order each night, the story of how the Darlings acquired a dog as a nurse for their children — these are delights beyond the thrills of flying and killing pirates.

Most libraries carry a novelized version of Barrie’s play in their children’s collection. Find a copy and some children to share it with. You’ll enjoy reading it and the kids won’t know it wasn’t written for them.

© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni