Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

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

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

Jane Yolen
Illustrator:  Steve Adams 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Penguin, 2010   ISBN: 978-0525478867

James Barrie was the seventh child and the third son of Mr. Barrie, who was a hand-loom weaver. The large family lived in a small tenement row house in the small Scottish town of Kirriemuir, and James had a mostly happy childhood making up stories, performing plays with his friend Robb, and later playing at being pirates with a boy called Stuart Gordon.

While he was at school in Dumfries, James went to a real theatre for the first time. He was “so taken with the experience” that he started a theatrical society at his school and wrote his first play. Later, when he went to Edinburgh to attend university, he went to lots of plays, he reviewed plays, and he worked on his writing. More than anything, James wanted to become a published writer.

His hard work and determination paid off and soon James’ articles were being published “in all the best magazines in Britain.” He also wrote several books, and then he began creating plays as well. After he got married, James settled down in London for good, and it was at this time that he befriended two small boys whom he met in London’s Kensington Gardens. He made up stories for the boys and played with them. Then he got to know the rest of the boy’s family and they spent many hours together. The time he spent with the boys, the stories they made up together, and the games they played were the inspiration for James’ next big play: the story of a boy called Peter Pan.

This fascinating picture book tells the story of the man who created one of the most famous book characters of all time: the flying boy who refused to grow up and who lived in a magical place that could be found if one went to the “second star to the right and straight on until morning.” With quotes from Barrie’s stories on every page and wonderfully rich illustrations to accompany the text, this is a book that every Peter Pan fan should read.