Reviews /

Saving Neverland

Authored by Abi Elphinstone
Published by Penguin Random House Children's UK

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Saving Neverland:

In this re-imagining of J.M. Barrie’s classic for a modern audience, ten-year-old Martha Pennydrop is, as you might guess, desperate to grow up. But when Martha and her younger brother, Scruff, discover some mysterious gold dust in a bedroom drawer in their new house (along with a forever-open window) their journey to Neverland begins. The house used to belong to another family (the Darlings) who once visited this world themselves. And now Peter Pan is back, and in dire need of help. A terrible curse cast long ago by Captain Hook grips Neverland, and only Martha and her brother can save it.

Much time has passed since the original story of Peter Pan was told, of course, and according to Elphinstone she knew that if she was going to attempt to write a modern sequel, she would need to address some of the more problematic aspects of the book, and that’s the sexism and overt racism. Her aim has been ‘to retain what is most precious about J.M. Barrie’s original but make it a more inclusive, compassionate story.’

Like the original, the story captures brilliantly the joy and pain of growing up and presents itself in a glacially re-invented Neverland of ice-flumes, snow-capped peaks, icicled caves and frosty forests. KS2 readers will be enthralled by the range of creatures on show: frostbears, snowtigers and icesharks patrol Neverland, sapping away its magic as they await the return of the menacing Captain Hook. And the central message of the importance of imagination, magic and joy in our lives is key to the saving of not only Neverland but Scruff and ultimately Martha herself. A great addition to reading for pleasure lists in primary KS2.

Abi joined Nikki Gamble, In the Reading Corner, to talk about the book, Saving Neverland,  You can listen to it here: