Neverland & Sherwood Forest: Classic Listening for All Ages By Lance Eaton, June 2005
After Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet showed audiences how the boy who never grew was created in Finding Neverland, I decided to take a look at the endearing adventures of Peter, Wendy, her Darling brothers, and the Lost boys in the fantasy-world known as Neverland. While the story is more renowned for its performance versions (both cinematic and theatrical), J. M. Barrie also wrote a more detailed novel about his famous troupe of wayward children. So take a hit of fairy dust, think happy thoughts and fly towards 'the second star to the right and then straight on till morning.'
Barrie's Peter Pan (Tantor Audio, 4 hrs., narrated by Donada Peters) gives listeners a world filled with excitement and drama. No longer restricted to the time constraints of a play, Barrie takes listeners on a whimsical tour of Neverland introducing them to additional adventures and characters throughout the island. We hear about the exploits of the Darling children as they begin to forget their own family, building up to Peter Pan's defeat of Captain Hook towards the end of the story. Peters' narration (and singing) carries listeners along like a parent escorting a toddler through the park.
Peter Pan remains a classic tale for children (of all ages) to enjoy. Filled with wild and fantastic stories, this audiobook can only be enhanced by the imagination of the listener and we all know kids can have some very keen imaginations. If you haven't used your imagination lately or don't know how to daydream, I recommend hanging out with kids and reclaiming that lost childhood before you hang out with Peter and the Lost Boys.
Now, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (Tantor Audio, 11 hrs., narrated by David Case) feels quite different. For sure, Kevin Costner is nowhere in sight, and while these aren't Mel Brooks' Men in Tights, they certainly come off a lot more light-hearted than other cinematic adaptations would have you believe.
Just like Peter Pan, Robin Hood has many tales to tell. In fact, he has over 11 hours worth to expound upon. And truth be told, Marian is not too often found in them - she functions more as a footnote than as female protagonist. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood are just that - the merry and many adventures of Robin of Locksley, with many discrepancies from contemporary adaptations. Robin has a cunning intelligence on a par with Odysseus and a good sense of humor. He outwits the Sheriff of Nottingham, while enjoying revelry and jokes with his friends. David Case aptly tells us these tales, reading the narrative quite smoothly and efficiently, and singing many a ballad along the way.
If you prefer the story of Robin Hood as told in contemporary culture, then you might want to avoid this audiobook. But if you like the idea of a Robin who has many adventures and enjoys great friendship among his Sherwood Forest comrades, then it will provide you hours of excitement.
Looking for audiobooks for family vacation travel? Or simply in search of classics for nostalgic listening pleasure? In either case, you can't go wrong by escaping to either Neverland or Sherwood Forest for an earful of adventures.
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