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Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan

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  • Posted June 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan by Jane Yol

    Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan by Jane Yolen follows James Matthew Barrie from his humble Scottish birth in 1860 through his death in 1937. His rise as a successful playwright and enduring fame are due in large part to his most beloved character Peter Pan. Jamie Barrie inherits his storytelling gift from his mother. He begins writing, acting out stories from the Bible and his favorite adventure books, and staging plays at a very young age. As an adult, he plays pirates, Indians, and fairies with the Llewelyn Davies boys in London’s Kensington Gardens. Those games and wild stories inspire his masterpiece, Peter Pan. This picture book, published 150 years after Barrie’s death, includes a selection of his published works and a list of famous actresses who have played Peter Pan.

    Yolen masterfully weaves Barrie’s fiction with relevant biographical facts, including quotes from his plays and novels that capture the sentiment of the events she describes. Steve Adams’ acrylic-on-wood illustrations create an almost fairy-tale effect. Every page spread includes a striking, full-page illustration of Barrie’s life and a 2 ½-inch by 5-inch window into each quote from Barrie’s own writing. The result is an extraordinarily complementary pairing of text and art.

    Yolen deals with the more difficult aspects of Barrie’s life in an honest and age-appropriate manner. These difficulties include the loss of his brother David as a child, Barrie’s troubled marriage, and the death of the Llewelyn Davies boys’ parents to cancer. As a result, this biography paints a very human picture of Barrie as an individual, yet celebrates his imagination in a way that is sure to inspire young readers’ own creativity and encourage them to explore and appreciate the actual writing of J.M. Barrie.

    Laurie A. Gray

    Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XVI, No. 3, June 2012); used with permission.

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