This is the classic JM Barrie tale that we all know and love, revisited by the very clever Caryl Hart in rhyme.
There is no sign of the Disney images as Sarah Warburton has illustrated the tale with life-like characters and settings in a classic, old world storybook fashion. Many of the character illustrations have the feel of a pen and ink style of drawing, whilst the settings seem more like deeply coloured watercolours or prints.
The pages have multi-coloured backgrounds and depict not only the action, but the emotion of the scenes. The end pages have classic blue-on-blue leaf patterns that give the book an added sense of worth, as does the book plate printed on the first page. This is an old-time practice that enables the owner to proudly write their own name in the book. Whilst the dust cover is colourful, the actual book cover is a rich blue, embossed with silver. It is equally appealing and the ribbon page-marker makes me feel as if I have found a treasure from Grandma’s house.
This is a book that will need to be read over several sittings to small children but is the complete retelling of JM Barrie’s original story of the boy who didn’t grow up. The rhyming gives the text an easy flow and gives natural pauses to enable a multi-stage read to occur without disrupting the flow of the story. You will however, need a good light because, on several pages, the background and text colours are similar tones.
This is a very special old-world story book that would make an ideal gift for the young or the young at heart. It has depth and character in its wording and illustrations, and is presented in a format that invites years of love and reading. In the time of Disney characters depicting many of the old tales, it is a refreshing opportunity to see how books used to be and not have the feel of a mass-produced item with a low life expectancy.
This is truly beautiful book.
Reviewed by Leanne Caune
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: October 2018
RRP: $27.99 hardcover