January 20, 2006

Peter Pan Book Sequel is Complete, Plot a Secret

LONDON -- The authorized sequel to J.M. Barrie's children's classic "Peter Pan" is complete, but the title is the only detail the publishers are prepared to give away.

"Peter Pan in Scarlet," written by author Geraldine McCaughrean, is the official follow up to the well known tale of Tinker Bell, Wendy, Captain Hook and the boy who never grew up.

It is due to be published on October 5 by Oxford University Press, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital for children, which was given the rights to the story by Barrie in 1929.

"The gift of Peter Pan was the most generous present J.M. Barrie could possibly have given to the hospital, a cause close to his heart," Jane Collins, the London hospital's chief executive, said on Friday.

Award-winning McCaughrean was chosen from a field of nearly 200 authors from around the world to pen the Pan sequel, and said she felt the pressure.

"I've never done anything like it, so I did have this flutter of panic at the beginning," she told Reuters.

"I certainly tried to feed off the first book. I tried to pick up on the quirky style to make it entertaining both to adults and to children," she said, adding that the Darlings return to Neverland in the sequel.

Peter Pan has been a valuable source of income to the renowned children's hospital since Barrie bequeathed the copyright in 1929, eight years before his death.

The hospital launched its search for the sequel in 2004 to mark the centenary of the original story and to keep funds flowing when the copyright on the original book runs out in Britain in 2007.

The new book has been bought in 11 countries already.