cover image Flying to Neverland with Peter Pan

Flying to Neverland with Peter Pan

Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Carolyn Leigh, illus. by Amy June Bates. Blue Apple (Random, dist.), $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-60905-249-2

Is a truncated Peter Pan better than none at all? Bates’s (Minette’s Feast) gossamer watercolors give this version of Barrie’s story, told primarily through the lyrics of two songs from the 1954 musical, an immediacy and dreamy wildness. Peter is unmistakably feral—he’s naked to the waist—while Tinker Bell, although never mentioned directly, is a spitball of jealous fury. Today’s overscheduled children should find the lyrics as seductive and heart-tugging as did their parents and grandparents: “I have a place where dreams are born,/ And time is never planned./ It’s not on any chart,/ You must find it with your heart./ Never Never Land” (audio of both songs is available on the publisher’s Web site). But because this book starts with Peter flying into the nursery and ends with the arrival of the children on the magical island, both its essential framing device (no Nana! No battling Darlings!) and two thirds of the action (no crocodile! No Captain Hook!) are missing. Readers even remotely familiar with the story may feel cheated—or simply reach for the Disney DVD instead. Ages 4–up. (Nov.)