I'm a big fan of whenever my Comcast on demand service updates and allows me to persuade my daughter to watch a new episode of something instead of her personal favorite for the 18th time. Up this time is a new episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and while my daughter loved it I found it terrifying because it was full of THE POSSESIONS OF DEAD CHILDREN ABANDONED BY THEIR PARENTS!
I can explain.
The episode in question is "The Lost and Found Treasure". Jake, Izzy, and Cubby notice that some of their treasure is missing and go off to the Neverland lost and found. There they discover a huge trove of clothes and toys, which Skully tells them are allegedly the lost possessions from children all over the world. Turns out the items are gathered by a magpie, and everyone ends up friends, of course. However, it's never stated that Skully was wrong, and since the island chain where Jake's crew resides isn't all that densely populated it can be assumed that the enormous piles of items probably come from our world.
Which is important because you have to remember that the Lost Boys and other human inhabitants of Never Land are all dead children.
I didn't just make that up, either. There's a fair amount of scholarship on the matter. Click that link sometime for the expanded version, but here's the sum up. JM Barrie's older brother David died after he fractured his skull in a fall, and their mother said that because he had died young he would be a child forever. And remember, the Lost Boys go to Never Land because they fall out of their carriages and cribs.
Peter Pan himself doesn't debut in his self-titled play, either. Barrie first brought out the character in Peter Pan in the Kensington Gardens, and though the two stories do not take place in the same universe there are similarities. In Kensington Gardens babies start out life as birds, who forget how to fly and turn into children after seven days. Peter refuses to give up flight and lives as a halfway form who buries the bodies of children who die in the gardens after the lock-out time. Always in pairs because it is less lonely that way.
Later in Peter Pan, Mrs. Darling muses that she once heard of a Peter Pan who flew with children halfway to the afterlife so they wouldn't be afraid. Pan is a psychopomp, and Never Land is a little boy's version of the Elysian Fields. It's all happy adventures.
But what happens to the things those dead children leave behind? Those toys and books and rattles and socks and binkies and little knit hats and snuggle friends and dolls and that little seahorse thing that plays lullabies? Sure, a distraught parent may keep some of it, but the majority is going to get thrown out or donated.
Until the Never Land magpie comes along and steals the ghost of these artifacts and brings them to the island to be reclaimed by the souls of the children that frolic there.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go hug my daughter for approximately 14 years without letting go.
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