The boy who never grew up

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From Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, illustrated by Flora White (Oxford University Press, 1914)

This summer I spent a couple of weeks visiting at my parents’ house. It’s the same one I grew up in from the time I was four. My mother has been trying to weed out books for the last few years, so it was finally time to decide which books we could bear to give away and which books were coming home in my suitcase.

This “Big Golden Book” of Disney’s version of Peter Pan was one that came home with me. Not because it’s a version I’ll spend time reading again, but because it’s a writing memento.

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Writers bring all their experiences in life to their work. I didn’t remember this particular book when I was writing Serendipity and Me, but my heart recognized it when I saw it again.

And I had to wonder about the influence it had on my novel that I didn’t even realize. My narrator, Sara, is supposed to play Wendy in her class’s production of Peter Pan. Throughout my book, there are references to this iconic story. It’s such a rich buffet to choose from. (Spoiler alert. The excerpt below gives something away. Scroll down quickly if you don’t want to know….)

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Illustration by Alice B. Woodward, from The Peter Pan Picture Book, 1907

The Big Golden Book was one of my first introductions to Peter Pan. Along with the Disney movie, there was the original Peter Pan in library hardback (with that evocative library smell) that I read when I was about 10. And I can’t count how many other references to Peter Pan I’ve experienced throughout my life. Hook is a special movie shared with my kids. Just last night, I saw a preview for a new Pan movie.

When I was finishing up copy edits of Serendipity, I searched for and found two copies of Peter Pan to buy. One was just a normal edition. One was an anniversary edition, illustrated by Michael Hague. The 100 year anniversary! That came out several years ago. Oh, to be like J.M. Barrie and write a book that lasts so well….IMG_1322

 

 

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About Judith L. Roth

When I was about ten, it occurred to me that books are written by people and I was a person. I could create my favorite things–I could write books! I got a B.A. in English. My first poem was accepted for publication before I graduated. I had some success with poetry, but my real dream was to write fiction for children. My first fiction piece was accepted about 25 years after the first submission. Things you might want to know about me: I know how to persevere. I’m a third-generation California native, living in Indiana. I have two remarkable sons who are now young men,and a husband who’s supported my writing for over three decades. I love cats and currently have three of them. I love being near water–oceans, lakes, rivers all work for me. Chocolate is probably my biggest downfall. I’m exceptionally curious. (Or nosy, as my family calls it.)

3 responses »

  1. Peter Pan has always been one of my favorite children’s stories! I can still remember seeing the musical when I was a little girl and wanting to fly. When my children were young they loved Peter Pan and loved acting it out! My oldest was even Peter Pan one year for Halloween. I think a few of the reasons Peter Pan still resonates with children today is because the children fight their own battles, the concept of the lost boys never growing up and Wendy plays the mother role. I know my love of Peter Pan has influenced my writing, also.

  2. It seems to me that if you ask anyone they all have a favorite childhood story. Children often see the story and adults see the meaning behind the story. I like the way you have made connections with your story and brought it full circle by writing your own story.

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