I recently read a review of Peter Pan and quite by coincidence I had been listening to the audio book each day driving to school. In this review there were comments about the story being filled with stereotypes. I disagree. Peter Pan is a story written at a particular time and it is such a powerful adventure it seems silly to worry about whether Wendy is darning stockings or the way the boys expect Wendy to step into the role of mother and care for them.
The audio version bought this book to life for me. Several times I had to stay sitting in my car so I could listen through to the end of a chapter. I had forgotten about the devious ways of Tinkerbell and the long, hazardous journey to Neverland. I had also forgotten the silly behaviour of Mr Darling and the heroism and insights of Nana.
One of the most interesting things that struck me as I listened to Peter Pan was the brilliant vocabulary employed by JM Barrie. He absolutely does not talk down to his audience. I adore words like :
Using the audio book of Peter Pan would be an easy way to introduce this classic story to your class. There are so many cross references in modern literature which rely on a knowledge of books like Peter Pan. One example from our library reading this term is Jeremiah in the Dark woods by Alan Ahlberg. In this little junior novel we meet several fairy tale characters and a crocodile with a clock inside.
There is so much to discuss in Peter Pan. Here is a unit of work. This description of Hook, for example, could be used in so many ways with a class.
"In person he was cadaverous and blackavized, and his hair was dressed in long curls, which at a little distance looked like black candles, and gave singularly threatening expression to his handsome countenance. His eyes were of the blue of the forget-me-not, and of a profound melancholy, save when he was plunging his hook into you, at which time two red spots appeared in them and lit them up horribly. ... In dress he somewhat aped the attire associated with the name of Charles II ... "
Here is the cover of my edition of Peter Pan illustrated by Michael Foreman. I have ordered some new copies of Peter Pan (the novel and some simpler picture book and junior editions) for our school library because oddly we only had an unappealing small paperback edition with tiny printing. One of my treasured memories is of visiting the London statue of Peter in Hyde Park when I was travelling with my mum as a young teenager.