"The difference between him and the other boys at such a time was that they knew it was make-believe, while to him make-believe and true were exactly the same thing." -About Peter, Peter pan (p78)
I am so glad that I finally sat down to read this classic. This summer my husband and I are taking our son to see Peter Pan on stage, his first musical, and while I have watched the movie Hook only about a million times, I have never read or even taken the chance on watching Peter Pan! It is a sad but true fact. Now that I know the story and am eager to share it with young Jareth, I wonder what took me so long.
I remember picking up the Secret Garden a few years back and thinking to myself "This is a kid's book?" Well, when they were written books like Peter Pan, Secret Garden, A Little Princess were read by children, and after having read them as well as board books to my own child I have come to relize that we have dumbed things down for our kids, thinking they can't understand it. Why? Jareth is currently enjoying listening to Matilda at night, another slightly more difficult book, and he can't wait to finish it so he can listen to Peter Pan. And he understands it all if we let him!
On top of being slightly more difficult than today's "children's books", Peter Pan is more realistic, being about a boy who not only will never grow up, but is dead set on keeping it that way. He is offensive at times, playing right into the author's point of view of children being "gay and innocent and heartless" (p. 200) And they really are if you think about it, they only think as far as pleasing themselves most days. (Except maybe my most awesome little boy who considers me and my feelings as well). Peter is your typical boy, wanting to play make-believe, run around with redskins and mermaids, be treated as a king amoung boys, and never grow old. And what's so wrong with that? The author even knows that one of the biggest devises of the innocent is the ability to forget it all happened at the end of the day, allowing the child to keep the sense of wonder at every little thing in the world around them because it is constantly all new to them.
Of course my favorite character is Wendy who, when taken to the Neverland, automatically adopts the role of mother to all the boys; making the pirates, who also want a mother of their own, jealous. She has strict views on what her boys can and can't do, when they should go to bed, when they must take their medicine, and what she must do to ensure their continual happiness. But she is only a young girl, caught between childhood with all its make-believe and adulthood with all its responsibility. While she has a perfect mother who would do anything for her, she can't help but feel the need to grow up and do it all for herself, something girls feel far sooner than boys.
Again, an amazing book that takes a closer look at children. I loved it and hope everyone takes the time to read this one regardless if the child you have in mind is your own or the one you yourself used to be. After all, as the pirates who wanted Wendy for a mother remind us, there is a child in all of us.