I’ve been on a “read all of the books I should have read in the past, but never did” kick. I just spent a week with Peter Pan and adored the book’s playful attitude and delighting story. And I’d like to announce that it has secured a spot on my “Favorite Books of all Time” list. Truly. (If you are relying on the movie to tide you over, you’re sorely depriving yourself! Who knew?)
Barrie ‘s writing is both a marvelous conversation and a fascinating dream. Peter Pan is a pleasurable concoction of good and evil, suspense and relief, reality and fantasy. (I’m finally at the point where I enjoy a children’s fantasy in which the characters don’t always get along, a pirate or two actually “bites the dust”, and a fairy with a bad attitude uses the word “ass”. She really does! But because it was written in 1911, I think it’s a far more innocent version of the word. You know, good-old-1911 spunk — without the profanity.) The story is just heavy enough on the “good,” “relief,” and “reality” that I enjoyed it immensely.
As I read, I imagined the entire story taking place in our backyard – with sticks as swords and our future play gym as the pirate ship – starring our very own children (as well as cameos by Ryan and me).
As a mother, I especially adore Barrie’s affection for mothers. Somehow, he seems to know what it is like to be a mother, prayerfully and attentively caring for children… (After you read this excerpt, I dare you not to want to read the entire book!)
Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children’s minds. It is the nightly custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into other proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.