Reviews for Peter Pan in Scarlet

Booklist Reviews 2006 November #2
As part of the centenary celebration of J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan, London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, to which Barrie bequeathed legal ownership of Peter, held a contest to determine who would write Peter's sequel. McCaughrean won, and the result is this whirling, ingenious, and chaotic puzzle.From the first scene, readers will see that some ominous clouds are breaking up Neverland's eternal sunshine. Picking up from the original book's final chapter, McCaughrean presents the lost boys as old boys, grown into professionals with families. The only evidence of their youthful adventures with Peter are recent nightmares, which leave material evidence--cutlasses, swords, and top hats--in their beds. "Dreams are leaking out of Neverland," says Mrs. Wendy. It's clear that something is amiss, and the only way to set things right is to travel back to Peter's magical land. So the adventures begin, and here they are far more frenzied than in the original, with even more dreamlike, nonsensical connections between scenes. Peter, Wendy, and the explorers travel through an increasingly hostile and chilly Neverland, trying to determine what's wrong (Hook is back, among other threats). But the action is so relentlessly furious that the story quickly becomes convoluted, and readers who haven't read Barrie's work will most likely be lost.As in her previous, highly accomplished interpretations of classic text, such as this year's Cyrano, McCaughrean stays close to the original. Many of the details here are just the same, from the lost boys' cozy underground lair to the magic ingredient that makes flying possible. Unfortunately, in her faithfulness to Barrie's work, McCaughrean includes mention of war paint and scalping and stereotypes that will certainly disturb modern readers. In today's cultural climate, it's jarring to read the word redskins in a contemporary children's book, yet here it appears frequently. Why perpetuate racist terms from another era? McCaughrean does soften the original's strong gender roles. In the passage from the real world to Neverland, one of the lost boys becomes a girl, and fathers make some cameo appearances, widening one of the most overwhelming and confusing themes in both new and old tellings: the comfort and suffocation of a mother's love. The deep, philosophical undercurrent of classical themes and texts slows the plot's breakneck speed somewhat, and it is older readers, including high-schoolers (and adults), who will most likely catch the literary and historical references and sophisticated humor and enjoy debating the questions about free will and imagination, paradise lost, and how we shape our identities. Despite its chaos, McCaughrean's story, with its whimsical, delicious language and wildly creative scenes will capture readers who know and love Barrie's original. Consider this sequel for your collections, but consider, too, all the questions it raises: How do we handle outdated stereotypes in classics? Are there limits to what an author can borrow and discard in retelling beloved stories? Why has the original Peter Pan endured? ((Reviewed November 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
In McCaughrean's authorized virtuoso new Peter Pan story, the densely patterned adventures unfold in a headlong rush. Barrie's old story is knit into the new, and backstories are revealed. What makes this book worth savoring is the rhythmically perfect prose, each sentence metrically balanced--deliciously edible. McCaughrean's is an exquisitely rendered, magical return to Neverland. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 October #2
In the year's most hyped title for young readers, the much-honored McCaughrean delivers an "authorized" sequel that stays true to the original's style and spirit but speaks to modern sensibilities as well. Disturbed by a tide of entirely too-real dreams flowing out of Neverland, the now-grown Wendy and Lost Boys contrive a way to fly back as children. They find their old haunt a poisoned place, with trees turned autumnal, skeletons of mermaids on the beach and Peter himself particularly sullen and unlikable. Getting to the cause takes them on a harrowing quest for treasure buried atop wintry Neverpeak. The new tale smoothes out a few wrinkles in the old, adding another girl to the cast with the temporary transformation of Tootles and redefining the "redskins" as the diverse Tribes of the Eight Nations. McCaughrean also tucks in a band of humorously disaffected adolescents dubbed "Roarers," deft literary allusions from Barrie and other writers, reunions that range from tearful to shocking and (inevitably) a sequel-ready conclusion. Worthy homage, all in all, as well as a strong, poignant tale in its own right. Silhouette illustrations à la Arthur Rackham's for Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906) not seen. (Q & A) (Fantasy. 11-13, adult) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 October #2

McCaughrean won a competition to pen this sequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (see Children's Bookshelf, Sept. 14). She faced prodigious challenges in continuing this classic character's story the original book's tidy resolution and a croc-eaten Hook among them. McCaughrean's complex tale, set in 1926, finds Wendy, the "Old Boys" and John (Michael having perished in the Great War) dreaming repeatedly of Neverland, whose trappings (an eye patch, a live crocodile, etc.) keep turning up nearby. Wendy knows something's amiss, and she and the men set out to catch a fairy in Kensington Gardens (for its flight-inducing dust) and to grow small enough to make a return visit. In one of the book's most charming aspects, the group, having regained childhood and reunited with Peter Pan, loses sight of their mission: "The grown-ups who had set out from London full of good intentions, clean forgot why they had come." Neverland is now autumnal and sere, with its lagoon poisoned and fairy legions warring mindlessly; and a mysterious gent named Ravello, shrouded in unraveling wool, has turned the beasts into circus performers. An adventure aboard the abandoned Jolly Roger culminates in the League of Pan's rescue by Ravello, who flatters Pan into accepting him as valet for their next quest to Neverpeak's summit for Hook's hidden treasure. Pan's resulting transformation may stretch some readers' credulity, and this sequel is more densely plotted than the original. But McCaughrean's story, with its picaresque descriptions, faithfully rekindled characters and an ending that leaves room for sequels, will keep the pages turning. What's missing, and surely impossible to recapture like Mrs. Darling's one elusive kiss, gone to Peter is Barrie's rueful, ambivalent, ennui-infused omniscient narrative voice, which made itself nearly as irresistible as Pan himself. All ages. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2006 December

Gr 5 Up In this sequel to J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy (first published in 1911), the grown-up Lost Boys suffer from bad dreams leaking out of Neverland that result in cutlasses, pistols, pirate eye-patches, and other things appearing under their pillows. After a living crocodile shows up in the Gentleman’s Club of the former Lost Boys, Wendy realizes that something is very wrong and that they must return to Neverland. In order to become young again, they wear their own children’s clothes and obtain fairy dust for flying, and set off to heal it. However, when they reunite with Peter Pan, they forget their original mission and become caught up in the wild joys of his imaginative adventures. After they find Captain Hook’s abandoned boat with a map to hidden treasure, Peter Pan dons Hook’s second-best suit of scarlet and takes command of the ship. The League is accompanied by Fireflyer, an impudent, ravenous fairy with an astounding capacity for telling lies, and Ravello, a charming but ominous circus man who seems to be made entirely of snarled bits of yarn. As they travel closer to Neverpeak, where the treasure allegedly is buried, the menaces surrounding their quest escalate to the point where the League members become unsure of one another’s true nature and loyalty. McCaughrean captures the excitement of the original story without the overly precious Victorian glorification of childhood. Wendy and the former Lost Boys are developed characters (with a welcome surprise of a gender-change that’s believable within the scope of the story). Even Peter Pan, who struggles to remain as brash and carefree as he ever was, is not immune to change and consequences. Pen-and-ink illustrations add to the enjoyment of the story. Farida S. Dowler, Mercer Island Library, WA

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