Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Many Faces of Peter Pan

 The Many Faces of Peter Pan: An Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Children's Tale is a fresh take on an old favourite! The book is the brain child of Ayrin Witijono, a Classical Animation Teaching Assistant who wanted to help charities with a creative project.

The Many Faces of Peter Pan: An Illustrated Retelling of the Classic Children's Tale
Story re-told by Natasha Cowie
Copyright 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9877518-0-5

I have to say, I couldn't put the book down. Even after I finished reading the story, I had to go back to the beginning just to look at each of the pages again and marvel at the art, linger over the rhyme and  enjoy the text features. It is one of those books that is so exciting to look at - you just don't want to stop!

The picture book is based on  J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, but it has been approached in an original manner. The story is cleverly retold by Natasha Cowie, in rhyme. The verses are well-created and she manages to tell the story while avoiding the pitfall of convoluted wording for the sake of rhyme that makes the story difficult to follow.

The real joy of this book, however, is in the illustrations. The illustrations are a combined effort of 12 professional animators, graduates of Vancouver Film School, who specialize in different types of animation. Each animator has two separate pages in the book and each has a unique approach and style to her art. The pages are not side-by-side either, and for fun you can try to identify which pairs of illustrations were done by the same artist. It's a great opportunity to really study the art and techniques and try to find similarities and differences while deciding which style you enjoy most. The artists have a wide range of styles, and it makes the story even more exciting.

Another aspect of the story which I enjoyed was the layout of the text. Not your typical straight font, but an art form in its own right.  The book design is by graphic designer Keiko Furukawa, and I found it interesting to look at her choices for words and phrases in different fonts, something I think older students might also enjoy discussing. 

The Many Faces of Peter Pan is a wonderfully creative retelling of a familiar story. This book is a feast for the senses though. As lovely as the rhyme and pattern of the story are, the art work is exciting to explore. I couldn't help but think about how inspired my older students would be to try their own hand at re-envisioning a classic tale and collaborating on the artwork as these animators did, but also how much pleasure my younger students would receive listening to the tale in rhythm and just relishing the pictures. 

Additionally, 20 percent of the proceeds of this book are being donated to Oxfam America to aid in their fight to help those living in poverty and struggling to survive.

The cost of the book is $20. It can be ordered by emailing