THE ISLAND OF
REIMAGINING THE STORY OF
PETER & WENDY
Genre: Middle Grade / Fairy Tale / Fantasy
Publisher: Luna y Miel Publishing
Date of Publication: November 9, 2013
Number of Pages: 188
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Peter is still the boy who doesn’t grow up. Wendy is a girl who had to grow up too soon. And Wendy’s brother, Michael, has autism and a connection to The Island of Lost Children, a book for readers 8-12 and any fan of Peter Pan. When Peter leaves his island home, it’s to search for pick-up soccer games and mock sword fights. Wendy spends her evenings looking after her two brothers—sometimes bratty JJ as well as Michael—while her parents work nights. In the midst of several unusual events including the disappearance of her classmate, Lily, at odds with her adoptive mother, Wendy doesn’t realize that Peter’s pirate nemesis is keeping an eye on her. Everything changes for Wendy and her family when a peculiar fairy named Bellatresse helps Peter find the girl whose stories he once listened to outside her bedroom window.
With its quirky humor and occasionally touching moments, The Island of Lost Children is about children creating their own stories, families, and communities, all while swashbuckling, navigating mystical rivers, riding child-made roller coasters, and, of course, sailing high through the open skies.
Reimagining a New Peter and Wendy
Guest Post by Kim Batchelor
When we were kids, I always liked teasing my younger sister, Kristi. Once I made her help me make the batter for a cake we’d “bake” in the sun in our bedroom window. Another time, I convinced her that she’d broken her arm and had to return to camp during swing set mountain climbing. And then there was the afternoon I told her, “I can read the notes Peter Pan scratched into the sidewalk.”
Even after the failed cake and broken arm incidents, she believed me. “You can?”
“Of course.” Part of me knew that no astral boy stuck in childhood actually scrawled messages in the concrete path in front of our house. Or stuck notes in the gardenia bush next to our front door. But I often ignored the logical part of my brain. I wanted to believe it was true.
I got the idea to write The Island of Lost Children, a contemporary retelling of the story of Peter Pan and Wendy, because I thought the story I had loved so much as a child would be perfect to update for our time. Who doesn’t like the idea of flying? Or leaving for an exotic place made just for children? Or, as in my book, that children make for themselves?
In my story, Wendy believes she has to grow up quickly as she takes on responsibility for her brothers—including Michael who has autism—while her mother and father work nights. One afternoon, while spinning pennies with Michael, he suddenly whispers, “Fly!” By the end of the evening spent with her grumbling brothers, Wendy stands at the window wishing that she could do just that. Once on Peter’s island, the brother and sister experience a literal meeting-of-minds.
While I was conceptualizing the story, I got to know better a sister and brother, Summer and Cody, who is on the autism spectrum. Their close relationship inspired me to incorporate a character with autism into the story.
Beyond the serious elements, I wanted to create a story where the children have fun. Where handmade carts sail down the mountains like roller coasters. Where children sail down mystical rivers. And, of course, where they learn to fly.
I have to confess: my sister may now be on to me. She’s probably forgiven me for the made up secrets I shared with her. I no longer look for messages left outside my door. But sometimes I can’t help it. When the moon is full, I think of faraway places and actually sense something mysterious that might be hovering nearby.
We’re never too old for a flight of imagination that allows us to travel to lands where we never expected to go. I hope that by reading The Island of Lost Children, kids might also experience that same feeling of possibility that had me finding messages in the most unexpected places.
Kim Batchelor writes books for children and adults, stories both real and fantastical, foreign and domestic. She has been published in the Texas Observer, The Best of Friday Flash, and local literary journal, Contexas. She teaches creative writing to incarcerated women and lives in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas, with a spouse, two dogs, and way too many cats. One of her prized possessions is a busted tambourine given to her by Eddie Vedder. Okay, he tossed it to her in a dark stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, but the real story is never as interesting as the one she makes up.
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November 7 - November 16, 2016
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