Peter Pan is one of the most beloved Disney movies of all time, and from it has come spin off movies like Hook and Finding Neverland, and even now a Broadway musical. Even though everyone loves the story of Peter Pan, I find that far too few people have actually read the book by JM Barrie.
JM Barrie has such a beautiful method of storytelling. He maintains a level of realism that pulls you into the story, all the while talking about dogs who babysit and fairies with attitudes and flying boys who never grow up. There is no way that I can adequately summarize how incredible this book is (and how much you really need to read it!), but I will try.
The story opens with a charming domestic scene (much like the movie) in which Nana (the dog) is putting the Darling children (Wendy, John, and Michael) to bed. In the night, however, Peter Pan comes in through their window in search of his shadow, and when he wakes them he convinces them to fly with him away to Neverland, a place of magic where children stay children forever.
The story is truly about how important it is that little boys and girls have mothers. Peter Pan has what every child dreams of - freedom to fly and play and do whatever he wants whenever he wants - but the one thing he lacks is the love of a mother. He and the other "lost boys" (the boys who fell out of their baby carriages and live in Neverland with Peter) decide that Wendy should take the place of Mother.
Eventually, Wendy and the other Darling children start to miss their own mother, miss their life and the predictability of it. They return home and years pass, and Peter finds Wendy, though now she really is a mother. He is supremely jealous of her little baby - because all children need a mother and he doesn't have one.
Of course a lot more happens in this story. There's the adventures with Captain Hook and the crocodile, the mermaids, and the little Indians. It is the story we all relish and dread - Barrie brings to light the question of how children handle the conflict of good vs. evil when there are no adult mentors in the picture. There are intricacies present in the narrative that simply don't fit into the movie, and this is why it's important, if you love Pan, to read the story!