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Peter Pan A-B-C

Peter Pan A-B-C (Illustrated by Flora White, New York: Hodder & Stoughton, 1900.)

“..children know such a lot now, they soon don’t believe in fairies, and every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”                                                                                                                                  – J. M. Barrie
                                                                                                                                                            Before you read any further I most confess that I have been  (happily) teaching for 31 years; theatre and visual arts to high school students for the past 21 years (gasp!). Students are not the same they were 31 years ago, or for that matter, even yesterday. That said, this info will hopefully help you appreciate this entry.

In 1990 or so, while I was throwing around some titles for the first edition of my book, I was seriously contemplating using Peter Pan, We Love You (inspired by a 1924 song by Robert King and Ray Henderson titled, “Peter Pan, I Love You.”). Not getting any bites from publishers, Anne Kaufman Schneider, a close friend of the late Eva Le Gallienne’s, suggested Peter Does Wendy- in lieu of all the behind-the-stage romances that took place during the course of Peter Pan’s history. My wife at the time, Donna, also thought my title weak ( a “wuss” title was how she labeled it) and suggested The Peter Pan Chronicles. I liked it. And so did my publisher.

Now, 21 years later, I had to again decide on a new title for the much expanded and revised edition. I decided not only to ask my students but also to conduct an informal contest for teachers and students in the school where I teach. Some of the suggested titles included:

Second Star to the Right: The Peter Pan Chronicles

An Awfully Big Adventure: The Stage and Screen History of Peter Pan 

Never, Never Land: A History of Peter Pan

Never Grow Up, The Peter Pan Chronicles

Though there were many others which were varied and interesting, inevitably none were used. It was, however, interesting to note how many people were knowledgable about Peter and could actually quote J. M. Barrie. We decided upon Peter Pan on Stage and Screen: 1904-2010 so that potential readers would know ahead what to expect while those who might have read (or better yet) owned a first edition of the book, would perhaps want the second edition with all of its revisions and updates but also with a spanking new title. I really wanted one of the students to win the contest but…

Sometimes they win in other ways which are more fun. This morning, in my theatre class, I was explaining to my theatre students that I took a roll of film in to be developed over the spring break.

“Developed!” mocked Sam, an eighteen year-old senior and one of my more clever and humorous pupils (I’d write talented too but if he reads this his head will get too large) “Hanson, no one develops film anymore! It’s all digital.” “No,” I answered calmly (for I was ready for him this time), “I did have my film developed. I was using a stereo-scope camera I received for Christmas. It requires old-fashioned film where two images are exposed on one negative.” Sam acknowledged my small victory but in the end he still won the day.

In an effort to prove that I am indeed computer savvy, I continued my rant about how I uploaded, downloaded, scanned and attached several photos to my new blog. My class buzzed that I at least demonstrated a little more computer knowledge than some other teacher. Then I complained that yesterday I had discovered some spam photos on the site that had nothing to do with Peter Pan.”I need to find a way to prohibit this otherwise I might find my blog filled with pornography.”

“Then you could call your site Peter Porn,” Sam instantly offered with a smile that could intimidate a cobra.

And that’s part of the joy of teaching for like it or not “…children know such a lot now…”



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