Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Young Adult Retellings of Peter Pan

I'm so excited about this post because it's been a long time in the making. Sometimes time is what you need to do things right. We noticed late last year that a lot of YA Peter Pan retellings were coming out, and, since we love retellings over here at Intellectual Recreation, we knew we wanted to do a feature on them. At first we thought we would do a Reading on a Theme, but, as we began to look ahead to 2016, we learned that even more Peter Pan retellings were on their way. (Seven of the ten books featured here were published between September of 2015 and June of 2016!) So, after many months, we have gathered and read ten Peter Pan retellings and are ready to share them with you.

We stuck with YA retellings of Peter Pan, but after that any and all variations were welcome. In this post we have fantasy, horror, realism, historical fiction, and alternate history. We have stories told from the point of view of a secondary character. We have books published by big publishing houses, and books published by several smaller publishers as well.

In short, we have a Peter Pan retelling for everyone. Have you read any of these or any other Peter Pan retellings? Tell us in the comments! Now that we've read so many we'd love to chat about all things Peter Pan.

Everland by Wendy Spinale:
Gwen Darling is doing her best to protect her younger siblings in the bomb-out, disease-invested city of World War II London when she meets Pete and Bella who take her to the lost boys. I loved how Wendy Spinale spun this retelling. The references to Peter Pan are clever and spot-on--with Hook as a German Officer and Tinkerbell sporting mechanical wings. This book really worked for me. Everland's alternate history, apocalyptic, steampunk world is a doozy of a setting. I loved the mix of genres, and I truly felt like Wendy Spinale brought something new to the Peter Pan tale. (Published May 2016 by Scholastic. Review copy from Edelweiss.)

Never Ever by Sara Saedi:
On Wylie's seventeenth birthday, she and her brothers find themselves on the magical Minor Island, run by the charismatic Phinn. Seduced by the island's promise to keep them from growing up, the Dalton siblings decide to stay only to find it may be more than they bargained for. Never Ever is a modern take on the classic tale and Sara Saedi reimagined it beautifully. I liked that I easily understood the counterparts of the original story and was still surprised by how they fit together. (Published June 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers.)

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson:
This is the story of the girls of Neverland prior to Wendy's arrival. Tinker Bell is a fairy wholly devoted to observing the fierce and wild Tiger Lily. From the little fairy, we learn how Tiger Lily met Peter and how the two began a doomed romance. Of all the Peter Pan tales I read, I think I was most satisfied with the conception of Neverland in this one. Jodi Lynn Anderson writes beautifully, and I loved the new characters she introduced to the beloved original. So many things about Tiger Lily are achingly sad but also exquisitely rendered. (Published July 2012 by HarperTeen)

Tigerheart by Peter David:
Paul Dear is fascinated by The Anyplace and The Boy. When his baby sister dies, he believes the only way to assuage his mother's sorrow is to find a new baby sister in The Anyplace. Tigerheart is an inventive and magical retelling of Peter Pan. In it the elements of the original story are tweaked just slightly making Peter David's tale feel both familiar and new. I especially liked the eerie and uncanny atmosphere of this Peter Pan tale. (Published June 2008 by Del Ray)

Wendy Darling: Stars by Colleen Oakes:
The Darlings are anxious to make the perfect society match for their daughter, but Wendy's heart is set on the book seller's son. Things don't turn out how any of them planned when Wendy meets Peter Pan. In Wendy Darling: Stars, Colleen Oakes really fleshes out the character of Wendy. Her background, family life, and hopes for the future are well defined and made Wendy a more full and interesting character. (Published October 2015 by SparkPress.)

Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell:
Gwendolyn McAllistair has spent her life on the move because her mother believes if they stay in one place too long the monsters will find them. Gwen always believed her mother suffered from delusions until she and her best friend Olivia are captured by shadowy creatures and taken to Neverland. Lisa Maxwell's retelling is a decidedly sinister one. Neverland is super creepy and its residents are not easily defined. (Published February 2016 by Simon Pulse. Review copy from Edelweiss.)

Never Never by Brianna R. Shrum:
James, a child who wants nothing more than to grow up, meets Peter in the park one night. Intrigued by Peter, James follows him to Neverland, only to find he can never leave. In Never Never, Brianna R. Shrum tells Hook's origin story, which was a unique angle for the story. I particularly liked Ms. Shrum's concept that a person in Neverland chooses whether they grow up or stay young.(Published September 2015 by Spencer Hill Press.)

Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel:
After John and Michael go missing, Wendy goes on a quest to find the waters they may be surfing and meets Pete, Belle, and their gang at Kensington Beach. The question remains: are they real or figments of Wendy's imagination born from her grief? Second Star is haunting. Despite the sadness of the book, I was drawn to it and found it hard to put down. I enjoyed the re-imagining of many of the characters and felt it was true to the original, if only emotionally. (Published May 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux) (Also featured here)

Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor: 
Set after World War II, Nora & Kettle is the most realistic retelling of Peter Pan on this list. Nora, the Wendy character, has an abusive and powerful lawyer for a father. Kettle, the Peter character, is an orphaned boy recently released from a Japanese internment camp. This book is powerful and sad with serious and heavy themes. I was impressed by the way that Ms Taylor wove elements of history and hardship into the story of Peter Pan. (Published March 2016 by Clean Teen Publishing. Review copy from NetGalley.)

The Neverland Wars by Audrey Greathouse:
This retelling has an intriguing premise. When Gwen's little sister, Rosemary, leaves her window open and goes missing, Gwen learns that magic is real and that her father works in the magic business. Adults keep magic a secret from the children who would squander it. I especially liked how this retelling confronted the theme of growing up. Gwen is a teenager who misses childhood and is reluctant to become an adult. She should be too old to get to Neverland, but somehow she does. (Published May 2016 by Clean Teen Publishing. Review copy from NetGalley.)

Everland, Tiger Lily, Tigerheart, Unhooked, Nora & Kettle, and The Neverland Wars reviewed by JoLee.

Never Ever, Wendy Darling, Never Never, and Second Star reviewed by Paige.

P.S. More fairy tale retellings here.

P.P.S. More alternate versions of World War II here


  1. My novel, ALL DARLING CHILDREN, is expected from Red Adept Publishing next month! It's a darker retelling from the POV of Wendy's granddaughter, Madge. So excited to see it'll be in good company!

    1. Congratulations! You definitely are in good company.

  2. I loved Everland by Wendy Spinale . I have a soft spot for anything steampunk theme. If you enjoy realistic theme integrated into story tale fiction than you will like this book. Adventurous, fast paced book that any age can enjoy.

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