Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens by J.M. Barrie
Updated: Jan 19, 2019
For Christmas this year, I received a stunning hard-bound edition of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, the origin story, by J.M. Barrie, of the boy who never grew up. Beautifully illustrated and beautifully printed, the book follows the child who, at one week old, decides he is afraid to become a man and runs away to Kensington Gardens to live with the birds. A precursor to the more well-known narrative of Wendy Darling, Captain Hook, and Neverland, this book is less eventful, but every drop as magical. Peter's adventures in the Gardens, from sailing his thrush-nest boat across the Round Pond, to playing tunes on his wood pipe for the fairies, capture that beautiful innocence of childhood that makes Peter Pan so very enchanting.
There is something romantic in the idea of a boy that time can't touch. Something tragic in the thought of a child who cannot return to his mother. Something magical in the picture of a happy little creature playing every day away, literally free as a bird, worried for nothing but having adventures and being the prince of the Gardens.
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens is not an exciting read per se, but it's charming in the way that only fairy tales can be. It's stepping into a little boy's mind and seeing the world from his eyes, tickling that deep-buried, sparkling memory of the way we all thought and saw once upon a time. Laugh with him, smile at him, or ache for him, it's impossible to read this story and not feel some stirring of emotion. It's the origin of J.M. Barrie's most beloved character, and more than anything, a delightful reminder of all the tenderness, wonder, and imagination that is the heart of a child.