Over the years, nearly everyone from Neverland has become famous, infamous, or iconic. There’s good ol’ Peter Pan, of course. And Tinker Bell, Captain Hook, Wendy Darling, and don’t forget the ever-lovin’ lost boys themselves. Even Smee has picked up some younger fans with his supporting role in the TV show Jake and the Neverland Pirates.
The only character who never made it to the Neverland Walk of Fame was poor Princess Tiger Lily—mostly because the depiction of “Indians” in the original Peter Pan story is embarrassingly crude. To James Barrie, American Indians were exotic fantasyland creatures. And to Walt Disney, they were dopey, slue-foot savages. Right from the beginning, Tiger Lily’s image was tainted by ignorance and cultural stereotyping.
But now someone has rewritten Peter Pan with an emphasis on young Tiger Lily. And we couldn’t be happier. After all these years, it’s nice to get a new perspective on the shenanigans going on in Neverland.
Despite the book’s title, however, the story is not told through Tiger Lily’s eyes. It is Tinker Bell who is conscripted to narrate this tale. We have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the little faerie is a keen observer of human nature (Who knew?). But on the other hand, Tiger Lily remains as enigmatic and elusive as ever. She was part black panther and part little girl, says Tinker Bell. “There was a beast somewhere inside her, but there was also a girl who was afraid of becoming a beast.”
In other words, Tiger Lily could not escape her inscrutable nature. As a baby, she was found abandoned in a field of flowers by a shaman king (which, we suppose, preserved her “princess” honorific). And her adoptive tribe treated her like some sort of prickly crow spirit. She was quiet, reflective, and always alone. “She guarded herself like a secret,” says Tinker Bell.
But that all changed when she met Peter Pan. Despite his selfish, impulsive nature, Peter encouraged Tiger Lily to blossom. He introduced her to the magic of Neverland and together they experienced love for the first time.
Paradise island is turned upside down when Wendy Darling eventually shows up. Smitten by her sparkling otherness, Peter Pan abandons Tiger Lily and follows Wendy back to London. But that’s not the end of the story. Life goes on in Neverland, a place where no one grows old, and everyone is doomed to travel the same endless circle forever. Even 80 years after Peter abandons her, Tiger Lily continues to look toward the sea and reflect upon the disappearance of her first love. Way back when she turned 15 (for the first time), Peter Pan walked across her heart, and left his footprint there. Forever she will be the loneliest girl in Neverland.
[Tiger Lily / By Jodi Lynn Anderson / First Printing: July 2012 / ISBN: 9780062003256]