Peter Pan in Scarlet

Written by Geraldine McCaughrean
Review by Helene Williams

Whether or not you’ve read the original Peter Pan, you are no doubt familiar with at least the high points of the story about the Darling children who learn to fly, Peter Pan, the boy who won’t grow up, the glittery fairy Tinkerbell, and the evil Captain James Hook. Who among us hasn’t wanted to revisit Neverland at some point, putting aside the hassles of being grown up? Well, here’s your chance. At last, the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital (to whom J.M. Barrie gave the copyright of Peter Pan) has authorized a sequel to this favorite story. Geraldine McCaughrean provides a delightful tale of just such a return to Neverland in which the adults-turned-children battle pirates, overgrown Lost Boys, and some scary inner demons in order to save not only Peter, but Neverland itself.

Set in the 1930s, the story evokes post-war London and the feeling of loss—of friends, family, and innocence—that the now-grown Wendy, John, and the rest are encountering. Not only that, but nightmares are leaking out of Neverland, and it becomes obvious that a rescue mission is necessary. Along the way we meet some new characters, including Fireflyer, the lovable but pathological liar fairy. This book is a great read for adults and children alike, and while I highly recommend introducing children to Barrie’s tale first, this volume can easily stand alone, providing a refreshing respite from the cares of day-to-day adult life.