Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hook at last!

So, I'm on the fourth (of six) tapes with Peter Pan in Scarlet and finally something is happening. My first thought on this title was that -- while it might appeal to lovers of the "first" book of all ages -- it was too young for our teen audience. Then the book entered a "dark" period -- where Pan becomes odder and odder, more and more dictatorial and unpleasant; some of Hook's pirates make an appearance (that made little sense to me), and the League of Pan (Peter, Wendy and the Lost Boys -- which incidentally now include another girl who was transformed into a girl because he chose his daughter's clothes in which to make his transformation to childhood again ... you've got to read it, I guess) head off on a journey aboard Hook's old ship.

Along the way they've picked up a mysterious fellow Ravello -- who Tim Curry voices with a completely inexplicable accent: Where is this guy from? Ravello figures prominently, and I'm sure most adults will know who is shortly after his introduction, but it might be a surprise for kids.

Spoiler! He's Hook! And in revealing himself, he confesses he survived inside the female crocodile all those years by eating her eggs. That was clever!

But I digress (a lot!): Does this dark turn make this a book with appeal for teens? I'm not sure that even the fantasy lovers who read anything will wait for the plot to get exciting, and those who don't care for fantasy probably won't even make it to Neverland. I hope the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital isn't banking on this title to become the cash cow that the original was, 'cause I just don't see it becoming a classic.

Despite a number of moments of authorial cleverness -- to my despair (the original being a beloved book of my childhood -- except now I'm wondering if it was, in fact, the Mary Martin version that was so beloved) -- I'm not liking this audiobook. Curry does some very odd vocal interpretations, and speaks mostly in a very low (in volume and in range) tone -- I've got the volume cranked way up on this book. This was one of those books where I just could not keep track of the journey which is pretty much the whole middle (and, perhaps, set-up) of the book. When you read and you're confused, the act of leafing back is a pretty easy one (unless you're that monk in that YouTube video that's making the rounds, but with an audiobook the going back is agony -- which disk/tape was it on? How far in was it? Am I close here? As a result, I rarely go back. And so when the book takes leaps that I don't remember (currently I'm occasionally wondering where the dog named Puppy originally showed up), I'm struggling to retain interest.

On top of this, the journey of the League of Pan has been a long one, without much action along the way. Yes, they've been a little hungry, Slightly has been banned from the League because he is growing up, Puppy (whoever s/he is) has disappeared, and they are climbing a frozen mountain in search of Hook's treasure.

And now they have found it! Hook has revealed himself (that was a great chapter/cassette break by the way), and hopefully, things will move along a little faster.

I sat in on the Children's Notables discussion of this title and one committee member expressed her discomfort with the use of the term redskin. I've been listening hard for it, and only detected it once or twice. It slipped right by. However, I will concede that that was one of the areas where I lost track. I think the island's native peoples briefly showed up in league with some of Hook's pirates, but I'm not entirely sure. And I don't think that Tiger Lily was amongst them.

When I'm not enjoying my listening to the utmost, I tend to think about those books I'm going to get to next: For me, The Cunning Man by Celia Rees, The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven (our first nomination -- hooray!) and House of the Red Fish by Jeff Woodman.

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