Title: Peter Pan in Scarlet
Author: Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Scott M. Fischer
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Author Website: www.geraldinemccaughrean.co.uk/
Rating: 4/5 stars
Challenge: 75 Books 09
The first-ever authorized sequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan!
In August 2004 the Special Trustees of Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, who hold the copyright in Peter Pan, launched a worldwide search for a writer to create a sequel to J. M. Barrie's timeless masterpiece. Renowned and multi award-winning English author Geraldine McCaughrean won the honor to write this official sequel, Peter Pan in Scarlet. Illustrated by Scott M. Fischer and set in the 1930s, Peter Pan in Scarlet takes readers flying back to Neverland in an adventure filled with tension, danger, and swashbuckling derring-do!
In 2004, the Great Ormond Street Hospital (holders of the rights to Peter Pan held an open-call for authors to submit a sample chapter and synopsis for a proposed sequel to Peter Pan, to be published in honor of the centennial of the story in 2006. Geraldine McCaughrean's Peter Pan in Scarlet became the authorized sequel to J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan. Picking up the story some years later (but seemingly ignoring the epilogue of the original), all the Darling children have become full-grown grown-ups now. However, they all discover that they have been having dreams of Neverland; dreams so real that they are bringing objects back with them from their dreaming (pistols, cutlasses, etc). Wendy decides that there must be something wrong in Neverland and they all decide to travel back to try to help Peter with whatever is ailing Neverland.
In order to return to Neverland, however, the Darling's must discover how to become children again. They borrow their children's clothing and pretend to be children again, which does the job. Upon arriving in Neverland, they discover that Peter is moodier than usual, and living alone in the Wendy House, which has become a tree house in the branches of the Nevertree, which hasn't been cut in years and has grown through the roof of the underground hideout. They decide that a quest is in order to brighten everyone's spirits and they set off in search of a dragon. While in search of a dragon, they discover that the Lagoon is littered with the skeletons of mermaids, and they find the skeleton of The Crocodile as well. Wendy also meets Ravello, a circusmaster, and his animals. While they are standing on the shores of the Lagoon, the Jolly Roger beaches itself in front of them, and Peter decides to rename it the Jolly Peter. He also discovers a chest in Hook's old rooms, which contains his second-best coat and a treasure map. Peter dons the coat and decides to search for the missing treasure.
What follows is at once a fun, romping adventure to parts previously unknown in Neverland and at the same time a story that seems to loose its way occasionaly. The final confrontation at the end of the story is very vague, to the point where I thought that my book was missing pages; I thought I had missed something in the reading. It becomes more a test of wills than anything else, and this struck me as being a little off for Peter Pan, who was never one to think things through as he was to simply do whatever came to mind, as any child would.
However, by the end of the book, I was completely wrapped up in the conclusion. I don't want to spoil any of it, but the ending left me feeling so buoyed, the frenetic jumping through the final confrontation was meaningless to me. I felt the story ended perfectly and that everyone got the happily-ever-after that they needed.
I was surprised by McCaughrean's storytelling. She didn't shy away from making appropriate occurrences in the story that helped it move along, whether or not those occurrences could be seen as "child friendly" (for instance, the holes that are being wripped into Neverland are a result of the Great War, which is also the reason for the fact that Michael Darling is missing from this story). She took the story as Barrie presented and moved it forward in such a way, that while the writing didn't always match, the story felt like it was a natural progression from what came before. Overall, an enjoyable read and worthy sequel to the story of the boy who won't grow up.