Friday, November 12, 2010


You may have figured out, I love Juvenile Literature. I also love the genre that elaborates through prequel or sequel the story of a well known and loved character. It also might not surprise you that I love Peter Pan. The genius of JM Berry can be in part measured by the many stories that were born from the characters of this beloved book.

The Disney Faeries' stories discussed briefly in The Fair Folk (May 2010) are comprised of many books and a full feature film. Here we learn the workings of Pixie Hollow, the home of Tinker Bell and her fairy friends.

Disney also had an animated feature film, Peter Pan II about Wendy's daughter, Jane, and her trip to the Neverland. I didn't expect to like this one, but I did. Not as good as the original, but Jane is feisty and the ending is sweet.

Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson have written several books in their Peter and the Star Catchers Series which serve to explain the creation of the Never Land, Peter's Powers, the birth of Tinker Bell, Mr. Grinn and the Mermaids; as well as to tell the stories of Peter, Molly Aster (Wendy's mother), Mr. Darling, Hook and the Lost boys long before the night the flying boy steals the Darling Children from their London nursery. My kids enjoy this series, and I like it. But having a long history with Peter, I had my own dreams of where he came from and don't love the theory of the authors, though they make for good adventures.

Of course, we must mention the fabulous movie Hook, staring Robin Williams, Julie Roberts and Dustin Hoffman. Peter has become a man, and a corporate pirate no less, and is blackmailed back to Neverland by the kidnapping of his children. On the Island, he is forced to remember how to crow and how to fly. He must remember his Happy Thought and how to be a child again in order to save his children and regain the love and respect of his son.

Also worth mentioning is Finding Neverland staring Johnny Depp as JM Barry.

I have a new book to add to the list. I have just finished Capt. Hook by James Hart. Though I always thought Hook was in fact a Cod Fish, there is still something to love about the child like Pirate. In the movie and the play his character is usually the same actor as he who plays Mr. Darling. Though we surely do not find either admirable, we also can not despise them. Mr. Darling tries to make amends by sleeping in Nanna's Dog House until the children return. And Hook is wise enough to envy the eternal youth of Peter. Surely someone who is so jealous of childhood can not be all bad.

We meet James as the illegitimate son of an English Lord as he heads off to the prestigious all boys school, Eaton. He quickly makes a friend, Jolly Roger and also makes an enemy in the senior and house captain, Arthur Darling.

Although intent on remaining an outsider and nonconformist, he soon becomes a legend and King among the under class men. He bleeds yellow blood, has trained poisonous spiders, is an academic genius, master swordsman and leads his friends to victory in the Famed Eaton Games, scoring the first point scored in over two hundred years of competition.

After having the gaul to fall in love with a Sultana visiting the Queen, and the adventure this leads to, he is banned from school and English Life. Faking his own death and leaving Arthur Darling in quite a mess, he heads to sea for seven years aboard his father's ship, The Sea Witch.

Aboard the ship he is reunited with a runaway Jolly Roger. He makes the acquaintance of a fellow nonconformist, Mr. Smee and makes an enemy of the cruel Mr. Blood, the disciplinarian of the ship. He gets his sea legs, leaps the backs of whales and earns the respect of many of his fellow crewmen.

However, it is also here he learns his father is a slaver and the Black Gold they will be caring to England are African Slaves. Though all his heroes are the villains of history, this is unthinkable to the boy prophesied to have a black heart. He confronts Mr. Blood and finds himself in the hold with the slaves.

Leading a mutiny with the help of a warrior slave, he becomes the Captain of the Ship and gains his hook and his name. The book ends with his promise to return the Africans to their home and then to sail to find the island of his dreams and his beloved Sultana by finding the constellation Lyra and going from the second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.

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