We're following the leader, the leader, the leader; we're following the leader, wherever he may go! Tee-dum, tee-dee, a-teedly-dom-tee-day...
Ahem. IWe're following the leader, the leader, the leader; we're following the leader, wherever he may go! Tee-dum, tee-dee, a-teedly-dom-tee-day...
Ahem. I may have watched Disney's version of Peter Pan just a few too many times as a child. I actually woke up with this song stuck in my head on Christmas morning a couple of months ago, no idea why. ANYWAY, as you may have gathered, I recently read J.M. Barrie's original story of the children's classic, Peter Pan. This is one of my favorite tales of all time. I loved the Disney animation (as you've already figured out), I loved the Mary Martin production, I loved Hook, I loved every version of the story I ever saw created, performed, or written. Oddly enough, however, I had never read the original story, at least not until a few months ago. I put it on my Fill-in-the-Gaps list for that very reason, and now I have read it.
Interestingly enough, Peter Pan was originally a short story in a book for adults, which was then adapted into a stage play, and then adapted again to be a children's story. You all know the general story of Peter Pan, right? Peter finds his way into the nursery of Wendy, John, and Michael Darling; he loses his shadow and Wendy wakes to find him crying; she sews his shadow on again and he takes them all away to Neverland. There they have adventures with the Lost Boys and the Indians and the dastardly Captain Hook and his crew. What I probably could have guessed (but didn't entirely realize) is that the familiar treatments of this story are prettied up. Barrie's original tale is a bit weirder, a bit wittier, a bit more sinister than we've been led to believe. The story is essentially the same, down to Nana, the children's doggie governess, but there is a distinctly different tone to the story.
Barrie clearly conveys sort of supernatural elements - he refers to Mrs. Darling cleaning up her children's minds when they've fallen asleep, similar to tidying the nursery only with their thoughts. He talks of Neverland being a place in the minds of the children, and yet they seem to physically travel there - they are absent from their parents for months during their adventures, and their parents are very sad. Peter is arrogant in all of the stories - that's part of his infinite boyhood - but he doesn't even make sense in his arrogance in Barrie's story, which I think is very true to the actual arrogance of a child. The story is also more bloodthirsty than the children's tales to which I'm accustomed. There is no shying away on the part of the Lost Boys or the pirates or the Indians about taking a life - they're at war with one another, and that's how it is. I do think children's minds work that way; it's just we as adults want to convince ourselves that they don't, so we try to make children's stories softer than that.
There are also some pretty funny comments in the book, particularly revolving around Peter and Captain Hook. I was particularly amused by the background on Hook and his extreme concern for good form. Barrie has a dry sense of humor, which I really enjoyed. Despite the humor that was clearly written to appeal to adults, the book as a whole seems very childlike to me, in a very honest way. It's not sugar-coated and sweet; it's odd and cruel and innocent simultaneously. I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would, in part because it was different from the other versions of the story I'd seen previously....more
Oh, Wet Moon. So angsty and drama-filled. I adore it. I love Ross Cambpell's pudgy little characters with the big eyes and the confusion about their lOh, Wet Moon. So angsty and drama-filled. I adore it. I love Ross Cambpell's pudgy little characters with the big eyes and the confusion about their love lives. I love that the most tomboyish main character (beloved Trilby) is also the only outright straight female main character. I love the weird side stories and the feeling that they're all on the point of converging. I honestly cannot put a Wet Moon book down after I open it until it's finished.
Volume 5, Where All Stars Fail to Burn, is where the shit starts to go down. Things start happening faster. We watch Cleo kinda sorta start to fall in love with a close friend, and also deal with her sister Penny's big secret. We watch Trilby and her geektastic boyfriend, Martin, be just outright adorable, and Martin gets to meet Trilby's parents. We watch Audrey finally stand up for herself. Myrtle becomes even more psychotic, and Fern becomes even more unbelievably weird. We still don't know who the masked vigilante is, though I've got some theories going. And of course, we get to see the big softball game. Campbell, that incredibly talented SOB, leaves the book with a heart-breaking killer of a cliff-hanger - I almost fell out of my airplane seat in shock that he would leave the story like that FOR MONTHS! Until the next book comes out! ARGH! It sets my teeth on edge just thinking about it, even now, and I read this book two and a half months ago!
Bottom line, 5 stars. I cannot get enough of this series. It's killing me that I might have to wait a whole year for the next one. Damn you, Ross Campbell!!!...more
I had been wanting to re-read Ender's Game for a long time. I first read it when I was in grad school, getting my master's in gifted education, and weI had been wanting to re-read Ender's Game for a long time. I first read it when I was in grad school, getting my master's in gifted education, and we focused on literature that would appeal to gifted children. I'd never heard of the book before, even though I was a big sci-fi reader as a child and the book was published around the time I was born. So I read it about 10 years ago and loved it, and bought a copy to keep in my classroom library when I was a teacher. I always meant to read it again, and I got my chance when my book club chose to read it for our December meeting.
Ender's Game's main character is, not surprisingly, a boy named Ender. Ender is actually his nickname because he is the third and final, or ending, child his parents had. He's an exception, a Third. Most families are only allowed to have two children, but Ender's older siblings were so promising to the government for a special project that they allowed his parents to have a third child, hoping he'd be perfect. His older brother, Peter, is essentially a complete sociopath with no human compassion. His sister Valentine is too loving and compassionate. Lucky for the government (and humanity at large), Ender is juuuuuust right. At age 6, Ender is sent to Battle School to learn how to become a fighter for Earth in the coming war against the Buggers. He goes through rigorous military training, and it soon becomes clear that he's expected to be the Great Hope to win the Bugger war.
I've heard a lot of complaints about this book. I've heard that it doesn't portray children accruately, that the children are too smart and too ruthless. I believe those people have never met a truly gifted child and must not remember what it's like to be a child themselves. The old adage "Children are cruel" has its foundation in truth. Children have not developed the emotional maturity to be sympathetic or empathetic; as much as adults try to teach them by saying, "How would you feel if someone did that to you?" they just can't comprehend it. And so they are absolutely horrid to each other when the mood strikes, and they are ruthless. I remember that about childhood. And just as quickly, it's all forgotten and children are best friends again. I remember that, too. Gifted children are no different in that respect; they just have the intelligence to suss out exactly the most hurtful things to say and do to one another. They are logical and have the intellingence of any of the smartest adults, but they don't have the emotional development to temper it.
And that's why I think this book is brilliant. It shows, in what I think is a highly accurate way, what happens when you throw a bunch of crazy-smart children into a military situation and teach them to be soldiers, pitting them against each other in war games. The book is science fiction, and it is ultimately about two races' misunderstanding of each other and the resulting destruction because of this, but the book succeeds because of its exploration of these kids' psyches, and Ender's in particular. It's the reason gifted kids all over the world feel so passionately about the book: they feel like someone finally understands them, that there may be other people like them, after living their whole lives feeling isolated. That, in my opinion, makes the book one of the best ever written dealing with gifted children, and it's reasonably decent sci-fi in addition to that....more