Welcome return of Peter Pan for the 21st century.

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The Island of Lost Children

REIMAGINING THE STORY OF PETER AND WENDY

From the The Island of Lost Children series , Vol. 1

Batchelor’s debut novel retells the story of Peter Pan and Wendy for a contemporary audience.

Batchelor updates the Peter Pan story, eliding some of the more troublesome aspects for modern readers (and their parents). The Lost Boys now include a fair number of girls, including leaders Lily and Trudy. Barrie’s stereotypical Indians have been replaced by a nonethnic “tribe” of kids, also led by a girl, Cholena. Batchelor also tones down the bloodthirstiness of the original pirate tale so that even the crocodiles don’t seem like much of a threat. This version of Never-Never Land has plenty of fun contraptions young readers will love: roller coasters, trampolines made from vines, and hobby horses that transform into real horses. The terrible teacher–turned-pirate Hook/Steed and the capricious fairy Bellatresse provide some laughs: “In a puff of smoke that made him cough, Bellatresse appeared. As usual, she crossed her arms and pouted. ‘I’m busy!’” More importantly, Batchelor deepens the familiar characters so that today’s kids can better relate to them. Wendy, the protagonist, “did not belong with anyone.” Her family life is difficult: her parents are struggling financially and on the brink of separation. Frequently left home alone, she must care for her youngest brother, Michael, who is on the autism spectrum but not getting the parental attention he needs. Family problems leave her and her two brothers with the desire to fly away. While life with Peter is a kid’s idea of paradise, family turns out to be of primary importance after all, and the ending is both realistic and bittersweet. Batchelor infuses her story with humor and some beautiful imagery, as when she describes Michael’s “special place,” where “red and yellow birds whirled like spinning tops with wings.” The writing can sometimes be stilted and wordy, though: “Steed slammed his good hand against a nearby table and flinched, immediately indicating that he regretted the gesture.” While this is a competent reworking, it will be interesting to see how Batchelor, a promising writer, tackles an original story for kids.

Welcome return of Peter Pan for the 21st century.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-98-972970-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Luna y Miel Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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