The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne *art by Veronica Fish
When a book is as beautiful as this one, you’ve got to read it twice. I read it on Wednesday in a series of short bursts, being interrupted constantly (that’s what I get for reading in my library!). Even still, I was moved to tears. The next 24 hours had me thinking of the book and doing a little digging into J.M. Barrie, critical essays on Peter Pan, and quotes from the classic. I had to read The Wendy Project again. This time, in a quiet setting for an uninterrupted hour.
As part of her therapy to work through the loss of her brother, Michael, after a horrible car accident (a car that Wendy was driving), Wendy begins keeping a journal. That journal is the graphic novel, The Wendy Project. The physical book looks and feels like a journal. Its size is just a bit smaller than a composition notebook. It even has a ribbon bookmark. It is not possible for this book to be any more beautiful to touch, read, and gaze upon. It was a must-purchase for my ever-growing book collection.
This story is simple and is a retelling (of sorts) of Peter Pan. After the accident, Wendy swears she sees Michael fly into the sky with Peter Pan. She becomes obsessed with finding a way to get to Neverland in order to bring him home. While all of this is going on, she is also the new girl at her high school trying to fit in and crushing on a boy who looks and acts a whole lot like Peter Pan. Lots of nods to Barrie’s classic and quotes from the book, too. My favorite is the quote the author uses to begin this story, “ To die would be an awfully big adventure,” but she substitutes the word “live” for “die” - readers knows immediately they are in for a dark story but hope will prevail.
The artwork that accompanies this story is even more powerful than the story itself (and THAT is saying something). I spent time just pouring over the drawings. Here are three of my favorites (it was very difficult to choose only three):
Finally, this book had me imagining that all missing and dead children are happily playing in Neverland. That thought makes my heart feel happy (and sad all at the same time). So many feelings! Take an hour of your life and read this book. You’ll be glad you did.