The Wendy Project

  • The Wendy Project
  • written by Melissa Jane Osborne
  • illustrated by Veronica Fish
  • published by Super Genius / Papercutz (2017)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Sometimes it feels like there are just too many adaptations of J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy. Every time you turn around, there’s another film version, another “reimagining,” or another new take on the classic tale. And many of them are, how should we say…less than thrilling.

So it was a genuine surprise to discover The Wendy Project, a graphic novel interpretation of the Peter Pan story that’s incredibly moving and explores the story’s fundamental themes along with a deeper dive into grief, family, and adolescence.

And it really is a fresh take on a familiar story.

The book follows 16-year-old Wendy Davies in the aftermath of a car accident that found her behind the wheel as her car crashed into a lake with her two younger brothers in the back seat. One brother, Michael, died in the accident, and the other, John, was so traumatized by the accident that he has stopped talking.

Wendy, however, refuses to believe Michael is dead. Immediately after the accident, she saw a vision of him flying up into the sky, and she’s convinced he’s coming back. The fact that no body was ever recovered from the lake only adds to her certainty.

Fantasy and reality soon begin to merge as Wendy’s world starts to resemble Neverland. Students at her new school begin to look like characters from Peter Pan, and she’s becoming more convinced that Michael was taken to Neverland.

The book is presented as if Wendy were sketching in a journal. To be precise, it’s her therapist-prescribed sketchbook meant to help her deal with her grief. Most of the illustrations look like pencil sketches (black and white), but as the Neverland fantasy invades the real world, vibrant and kinetic colors spread across the page.

The Wendy Project packs a lot of emotion into its 96 pages. It will take your breath away. It will linger long after you close the book, and you’ll find your thoughts keep returning to it.

As a window into a young grieving mind, it’s a fantastic book to help young readers begin to navigate confusing emotions and explore the concept of loss and acceptance.

(Disclosure: We were provided with a review copy of this book. All opinions remain our own.)

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