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un·der·state·ment: “Disney saw that possibility far sooner than we did.”

The New York Times reports on the runaway success of Peter and the Starcatchers, the first of a three-part prequel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson to J. M. Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan.

The importance of the Disney marketing machine cannot be underestimated either. Start with the book itself, which was published by Hyperion Books for Children and Disney Editions, two of the company’s three children’s book imprints. The book’s handsomely illustrated cover is embossed with gold-foil lettering, while the text carries lively black-and-white illustrations by Greg Call. The pages are heavy-stock paper with those jagged right-side edges that signal “important book.”

As a franchise, Mr. Pearson said, “Disney saw that possibility far sooner than we did.” Already, plans have been broached for a stage play based on the series. Character tie-ins are certain to come. For now, the company is focused on promoting the book to schools, librarians and teachers, through personal appearances, readings and the like.

The article, though, goes on to note that Peter and the Starcatchers “cannot be published anywhere in the European Union,” since J.M. Barrie donated the copyright of the original Peter Pan story to the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in Britain in 1929.

Mr. Barry professes unconcern about the copyright questions. “The good news is the sick children will get none of our money,” he said last month – jokingly, of course. And he professes full faith in the Disney lawyers: “We figured the people who will kill you if you use Mickey Mouse without permission would be the best ones to figure it out.”

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