Sunday, October 22, 2006

Peter Pan in Scarlet

McCaughrean, Geraldine. 2006. Peter Pan in Scarlet. Illustrations by Scott M. Fischer.

Those who know me, know I have a weakness for most things Peter Pan. So I was quite excited when a few weeks ago the "first-ever authorized sequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan" was released. I had great hopes, but not much information to go on other than the fact it would take place several decades after the original story ended and would involve a journey back to Neverland to have a series of adventures. You have to accept some things on pure faith, and I sure was satisfied with this one!

Often with 'sequels' written by a different author one only meets with great disappointment as the book fails to meet even the smallest expectations. Not so with PETER PAN IN SCARLET. The story begins simply enough with the reader meeting John and Wendy Darling along with the other Lost Boys one by one. It seems each has been experiencing vivid dreams of Neverland: the pirates, the lagoon, mermaids, the crocodile, Capt. Hook, the birdsong, flying, etc. These dreams aren't just faint memories though, these dreams leave lasting proof: physical evidence that Neverland is reaching out to them and calling them home. Perhaps the most vivid dream comes when the group of men fall asleep during their meeting at the Gentlemen's Club.

They dreamed they were playing tag with the mermaids, while the reflections of rainbows twisted around and between them like water snakes. Then, from somewhere deeper down and darker, came a hugely slithering shape that brushed the soles of their feet with its knobbly, scaly hide...When they woke, the Old Boys' clothes were sopping wet, and there on its back, in the middle of the Gentlemen's Library, was a prodigious crocodile, lashing its tail and snapping its jaws in an effort to turn over and make supper of them. The Gentlemen's Club emptied in the record time of forty-three seconds, and next day Members everywhere received a letter from the management. . . 'We regret to inform you that the Club will be closed for redecoration from 23rd April until approximately 1999.' (5-6)

These 'old' friends now with families of their own and professional careers must make a choice on whether to try to return to Neverland and get to the bottom of all of these crazy dreams. Most however decide to follow the call back to Neverland and youthful adventures.

I do not want to say WHAT happens when they get to Neverland because that would spoil all the fun of reading the adventures for yourself. But old friends are reunited, new friends and enemies are acquired along the way, and it is an exciting journey for the reader full of adventure, danger, and imagination.

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