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

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

5.0 1
by Jane Yolen, Steve Adams (Illustrator)
People around the world know the story of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, but not many know the story of his creator, J. M. Barrie. Barrie’s young childhood was marked by sorrow, but also held great adventure. His adult life and relationship with the Davies family brought about a second childhood that helped him to create his lasting triumph.


People around the world know the story of Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up, but not many know the story of his creator, J. M. Barrie. Barrie’s young childhood was marked by sorrow, but also held great adventure. His adult life and relationship with the Davies family brought about a second childhood that helped him to create his lasting triumph. Masterfully illustrated by Steve Adams and using Barrie’s own words, Jane Yolen tells the story of the author and the boys who changed his life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fittingly for the writer who would create "the boy who wouldn't grow up," this biography of J.M. Barrie is just as focused on his childhood as it is on his adult life. Before Barrie began his legendary play he first honed his writing, faced love and hardship, and met the five Llewelyn Davies boys, who changed his life forever. Excerpts from the Peter Pan tales and play draw parallels between Barrie's stories and his life experiences, while Yolen's narrative and Adams's paintings shine with the same sense of adventure that has given Barrie's creation such longevity. Ages 6-8. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Using a combination of prose narrative and quotable quotes from Barrie's own books, this beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of J. M. Barrie, the man who created Peter Pan and his friends and enemies. From childhood, Barrie was a storyteller, and as the various important moments in his life are presented in the picture book, there is also a well-chosen quotation from one of the Peter Pan books or play that supports that event. For example, a page noting Barrie's ability as a playwright is matched with a quotation from the book Peter and Wendy: "How clever I am" he crowed rapturously, "oh, the cleverness of me!" The illustrations are an equally important part of this text and provide a strong sense of the personalities of Barrie, his family and friends, and his many characters. Overall, this is a book that does a wonderful accounting of both aspects of Barrie's life that are probably little known as well as the more documented interactions with the Davies children who Barrie raised as guardian after the deaths of their parents. This is a lovely book to read and share with others who are interested in the back story of Peter Pan. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—By opening her biography with the magic words "Once upon a time," Yolen gives the story of J. M. Barrie's life a fairy-tale tone that perfectly suits its subject. This approach certainly does not gloss over the many tragedies he endured, such as the loss of a sibling or homesickness at boarding school. Instead, the framework is used to shed light on how Barrie used imagination and fantasy to entertain himself and others, especially during hard times. Yolen also provides a detailed account of Barrie's friendship with the Llewellyn Davies family, and how their escapades helped give birth to his masterpiece, Peter Pan. The book's illustrations and layout brilliantly capture the spirit of the text and its subject. A full-page painting faces a page of text, which also features an inset image reflecting the larger one opposite. In addition, each page of text features a quote from Barrie's own works, all of which are carefully chosen to capture the main idea or feeling of the spread. Adams's luminous, carefully composed paintings feel old-fashioned, making them perfectly suited to the text. He also uses light to indicate the key figure in a scene, much like a spotlight in Barrie's beloved theater. A beautiful tribute.—Mary Landrum, Lexington Public Library, KY
Kirkus Reviews

A sturdy picture biography of J.M. Barrie shines light before and beyond the wild success of Peter Pan. The narrative captures Barrie's child persona through deftly chosen details: "Whenever his favorite magazine, Sunshine, didn't arrive on time, he would write stories himself. Up in the top floor of the house, he scribbled away." His mother's intense grief over the death of a favored older brother left six-year-old Jamie doubly bereft. The author disproves Barrie's characterization of an impoverished childhood, preferring her own scholarship to his romantic embroidery. She lists 13 titles as "a few of the many books" consulted, yet some quotations lack context for modern child readers. Barrie tells his young friends, "that the Peter Pan character was based on them. 'I always knew that I made Peter by rubbing the five of you violently together, as savages with two sticks produce a flame.' " Adams's distinctive acrylic-on-board pictures juxtapose full-page scenes from Barrie's life with facing spots that fancifully illustrate snippets from the books and plays. A bit opaque, yet handsome and useful. (selected works by Barrie, selected list of actresses that played Peter) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.40(d)
970L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother.

Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts.

All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding.

Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille.

With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
socraticparenting More than 1 year ago
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.