Cover of Lost Boy by Jane Yolen

Lost Boy

After my picture book on Hans Christian Andersen came out (The Perfect Wizard), editor Steve Meltzer and I cast about for a follow-up. I suggested J. M. Barrie, Mark Twain, L. Frank Baum, Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling, Louisa May Alcott. As you can see, we settled on Barrie. I collected about two dozen books on him–from his childhood to his death, newspaper articles, academic papers, and I read all of his fiction and plays. I visited his house in Scotland. And then I sat down to write. What a strange, difficult life he led, but without that life, would we have had Peter Pan? I don’t believe so.

Around the web:

What reviewers have said:

  • “Acclaimed author Jane Yolen pens a captivating biography of J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. Born in Scotland in 1860, the seventh child of a poor weaver, Barrie loved listening to his mother read aloud at night. He began writing stories at an early age and, as he grew older, penned reviews of plays and books; but it was his friendship with the five Llewelyn Davies lads that inspired his masterpiece about lively “lost boys” and their adventures with pirates, fairies and Indians. Yolen intersperses her account of Barrie’s life with quotes from his creative work to show how his life informed his art.”—Washington Parent Magazine
  • *STARRED REVIEW*“By opening her biography with the magic words “Once upon a time,” Yolen gives the story of J. M. Barrie’s life a fairy-tale tone that perfectly suits its subject. This approach certainly does not gloss over the many tragedies he endured, such as the loss of a sibling or homesickness at boarding school. Instead, the framework is used to shed light on how Barrie used imagination and fantasy to entertain himself and others, especially during hard times. Yolen also provides a detailed account of Barrie’s friendship with the Llewellyn Davies family, and how their escapades helped give birth to his masterpiece, Peter Pan. The book’s illustrations and layout brilliantly capture the spirit of the text and its subject. A full-page painting faces a page of text, which also features an inset image reflecting the larger one opposite. In addition, each page of text features a quote from Barrie’s own works, all of which are carefully chosen to capture the main idea or feeling of the spread. Adams’s luminous, carefully composed paintings feel old-fashioned, making them perfectly suited to the text. He also uses light to indicate the key figure in a scene, much like a spotlight in Barrie’s beloved theater. A beautiful tribute.”—School Library Journal
  • “This fascinating picture book tells the story of the man who created one of the most famous book characters of all time: the flying boy who refused to grow up and who lived in a magical place that could be found if one went to the “second star to the right and straight on until morning.” With quotes from Barrie’s stories on every page and wonderfully rich illustrations to accompany the text, this is a book that every Peter Pan fan should read.”—Through the Looking Glass
  • “This handsome picture-book biography presents the life of James Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan…Adams’ paintings provide evocative views of Barrie and his world. Yolen smoothly relates intriguing incidents from Barrie’s childhood and adult life without making comments or drawing conclusions. Appearing on each double-page spread, though, are well-chosen, illustrated quotes from Barrie’s books and plays, inviting readers to find connections between his life and his art”—Booklist
  • “Lost Boy would be the perfect jumping off spot for a study of authors. It presents the life of an author in an easy to understand and enjoyable format. Readers could from reading this book get the desire to know more about J. M. Barrie and thereby read other books about him. This beautiful book can be enjoyed by children of all ages. Whether they are reading it alone or listening to it being read to them, the story of Peter Pan’s “dad” is one all kids will love. Children can help identify the characters from Barrie’s works featured in the small illustrations on each page.””—
  • “A sturdy picture biography of J.M. Barrie shines light before and beyond the wild success of Peter Pan. The narrative captures Barrie’s child persona through deftly chosen details”—Kirkus
  • “Jane Yolen’s newest offering is a lovely picture book biography of J. M. Barrie, author of many works but known today primarily as the creator of the beloved character of Peter Pan. This new book is particularly timely because this year is the 150th anniversary of Barrie’s birth.”—TheFourthMusketeer blog
  • “I loved this picture book biography of J.M. Barrie by Jane Yolen. I just loved it. Readers learn of Barrie’s life–birth to death–and of his legacy. The focus is on his writing life, but it does share certain aspects of his personal life. For example, his friendship with the Davies family. My favorite part of this one? How each spread incorporates quotes from J.M. Barrie’s works. For example, for the first page–what I’ve quoted above–we have, “One girl is worth more than twenty boys.” Readers are told that that quote comes the play Peter Pan. I thought Yolen did a great job of pairing up these biographical details with these fictional quotes. It made the book charming!”—