Welcome back to Friday Fiction Fix. Today, I’m reviewing a book I read as a child and re-read to my own children for Emlyn Chand’s The Books that made me Love Reading Challenge.
I’m also offering something very special.
Although I’ve stated in author interviews I couldn’t possibly think of spoiling the ending by reading it first, I read an interesting article recently that said that readers who do just that often get more out of the story as a result.
While I still can’t relate, even with empirical evidence staring me in the face (I will continue to think it a personal travesty to do so), I recognize that there are readers out there who may fall into this category of last-chapter readers.
If you are such a reader–someone who
spoils the story and reads the ending first–today is your lucky day. My first chapter is already available online as a teaser to convince you to read the whole thing, but for this weekend only, if you email me at carey [at] careyjaneclark [dot] com, I’ll send you the last chapter also. Just send an email with Last Chapter in the subject line.
And now on to today’s review:
Just prior to our return to Canada, we had inherited a number of books from other expat families and we have accumulated quite the library. The books are for all ages, and will mean our kids will have no end of good reading material. It’s lovely to see that our kids can walk into the room and find something interesting to read right away. I’ll often walk in the homeschool room ready to begin the day to find each child quietly flipping through the pages of a book. I sincerely promise to have pictures of the room once all the books have found a shelf. We are still waiting on some furniture for the homeschool room, and so one end of the room is a bit cluttered with bins waiting to be emptied.
One of the books that surfaced was one I had owned as a child and had completely forgotten about. But as soon as I saw it in the stacks of books, I snatched it up.
The funny thing is, it’s the illustrations that are most memorable to me. The book was a “flip book,” which meant you could read one story on one side of the book, then turn the book over and upside down and read the other story on the other side. This book was Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
The illustrations are stunning. You can see how they draw the reader in:
This month, I read the Peter Pan side to my children. I was thrilled to rediscover this edition, which preserves the spirit of the original story, but is a little more accessible. I still want to read the original to them (and I know they’ll let me because they love the story), but it does meander a little, and I figured this edition, with its stunning illustrations was an excellent introduction. It doesn’t dumb down the language or lose the essence or magic of the story, but is a bit more straightforward than the original:
Chapter One, Peter Pan (the original)
All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, “Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!” This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.
Of course they lived at 14 [their house number on their street], and until Wendy came her mother was the chief one. She was a lovely lady, with a romantic mind and such a sweet mocking mouth. Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East, however many you discover there is always one more; and her sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there is was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner.
The way Mr. Darling won her was this: the many gentlemen who had been boys when she was a girl discovered simultaneously that they loved her, and they all ran to her house to propose to her except Mr. Darling, who took a cab and nipped in first, and so he got her. He got all of her, except the innermost box and the kiss. He never knew about the box, and in time he gave up trying for the kiss. Wendy thought Napoleon could have got it, but I can picture him trying, and then going off in a passion, slamming the door.
I’m so gratified that my children enjoy the book version of almost everything better than the movie. They’ve watched a number of versions of Peter Pan, and were surprised to learn that the most recent version was more true to the story than the Disney one. Imagine! One thing they pointed out as we read was that the book version is more violent, but they liked it better.
This was such a delightful rendition, and a wonderful memory recalled for me. I’m not sure what to do next: read the original Peter Pan or the Alice in Wonderland on the flip side of this book!