Thursday 5 October 2006
The Special Trustees of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and Oxford University Press are delighted to announce that Geraldine McCaughrean’s Peter Pan in Scarlet – the only official sequel to Peter Pan - will be published today, Thursday 5 October. It will hit bookshelves simultaneously in 30 countries, in 34 languages, in answer to extraordinary interest around the world.
The story of Peter Pan in Scarlet has been a closely guarded secret – in fact it has become one of the most eagerly awaited publishing events in recent history.
But now we can reveal:
Set in 1926, green summer has turned to scarlet autumn. The Great War has claimed a life (Michael), the children have grown up and have children of their own, and troublesome dreams are leaking out of Neverland. When the Darlings and the Lost Boys arrive back there, they find it quite changed. Someone is living in the underground den and hanks of mermaid hair litter the shore. Captain Hook’s ghostly pirate ship is adrift without Captain or crew. When the Wendy House tumbles out of the Nevertree there seems nothing to do but venture further afield and into the realms of Never-been-there-land. Awaiting them are pirates, a circus, animals, witches, fairies… and dangers that will test the resolve of even the greatest hero.
WHICH OF THE ORIGINAL CHARACTERS ARE BACK IN THIS NEW SEQUEL?
Twenty years have passed and the children are grown up…but not for long. Wendy, now a wife and mother, goes back to Neverland along with ‘Judge’ Tootles, ’ Honourable’ Slightly, John, The Twins, ‘Dr’ Curly. There they meet pirates Starkey and Smee and Tinker Bell, of course! (‘Mr’ Nibs, in the end, just couldn’t bear to leave his children).
AND PETER? He is the same contradiction as ever: lion-hearted and heartless; the Wonder of the Neverwood and a little boy in need of friends and a game to play; the boy who - even after a century - has the power to touch us all.
AND IS CAPTAIN HOOK BACK? Well, what can we say but his spirit is still stalking Neverland…
AND WHO ARE THE NEWCOMERS?
A mysterious Circus Master called The Great Ravello - “Oh, I am a travelling man... I listen out. I listen in” (p. 147), “…a patch of darkness in a halo of daylight” (p. 51).
Fireflyer – a new, spirited (and permanently hungry!) male fairy. “[a] tiny, bluish mite, with red hair, and eyes the colour of honey” (p. 17). His greatest wish is to meet Tinker Bell.
Nana’s great-great-great-grandpuppy: “[Peter Pan] saw the puppy’s head sticking out of Curly’s pocket and said, “You washed Nana and shrank her!” (p. 37).
The author Geraldine McCaughrean has been overwhelmed by all the anticipation surrounding publication: “Now I’m quivering like a greyhound, waiting to see what people think of my book when it finally hits the shops. Will Peter Pan and Neverland work their infallible magic? I got more than my fair share of fun out of writing Peter Pan in Scarlet, but I’m sure there’s plenty left over for the children who read it.”
Dr Jane Collins, Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children said: “Today is very special for the hospital because it is the culmination of years of work to create the official sequel to J M Barrie's Peter Pan. Geraldine's writing has captured the essence of his immortal creation and the success of Peter Pan in Scarlet will ensure that Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children benefits from Barrie's gift for many years to come."
David Barrie, J M Barrie’s great-great-nephew is delighted: 'J M Barrie could never have guessed that Peter Pan would still be making a vital difference to GOSH almost 70 years after his death. I'm sure he would be delighted to know that, thanks to Geraldine McCaughrean's sequel, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up will go on helping children back to health for many years to come.'
OUP Children’s Publisher, Liz Cross comments, “To take on a story with the mythic quality of Peter Pan, as Geraldine McCaughrean has, and to come up with a book which not only remains utterly faithful to the original, but which also says new, important things about childhood and growing up, and which tells a fantastic, breathtaking story to boot - well, it's astonishing. Not many sequels become true classics in their own right, but I genuinely believe this one will.”
This evening there will be a launch party at Kensington Palace attended by a host of celebrities including David Barrie, Alan Yentob, George Layton, Trevor Nunn, Sheherazade Goldsmith and Andrew Sachs. Sarah Fabergé has even created a Peter Pan Egg which will also be on sale from today.