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Picturing a World

Ardizzone’s Peter Pan

Blog post alert: When I ran across a reference to Edward Ardizzone's illustrations for J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan: the Story of the Play presented by Eleanor Graham, I was tickled. Ardizonne's illustrations for Eleanor Farjeon's Little Bookroom have been deep in my heart for a lifetime. I ordered a used copy of Pan. It arrived. Ardizonne's light-of-touch pictures were as pleasing as I had hoped. And they set me thinking: Who else besides Arthur Rackham had done interesting pictures for Peter Pan? No one came to mind, so I thought a blog post musing on which stories attract multiple illustrators and which ones don't might be interesting.
Ha! So it might—but not with Peter Pan at the forlorn center! See why at On J. M. Barrie and Peter Pan.

As for the text of the book I bought: By chance, I had recently bought Eleanor Graham's Children Who Lived in a Barn from Persephone Books. Her matter-of-fact prose is adequate to tell her story of five ordinary children coping with living alone one summer, but if you want to read about Peter Pan, the Darlings, and the Lost Boys, search out an edition of Barrie's own Peter Pan: The Story of Peter and Wendy (1911). Barrie's style is not just an accident, a superficiality; it's the primary means by which mood, tone, and play of wit are conveyed. There may be a dozen good ways to illustrate Peter Pan, but there is only one good way to tell the story.

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