Peter and the Starcatchers



A swashbuckling high-seas adventure.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

Lots of fighting, children often in peril, some shooting and stabbing, Peter cuts off Stache's hand.


A surprising amount of sexual innuendo, and Peter kisses a mermaid who is naked from the waist up.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Sailors and pirates indulge in grog and rum, get drunk, and pass out.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there's a fair amount of sexual innuendo for a book aimed at tweens. There's plenty of peril and fighting as well, and adult sailors and pirates get drunk on rum and grog.

What's the story?

Peter and four other orphans are taken aboard a rickety old ship, the Never Land, to be delivered as servants to the evil king of Rundoon. Also on board the ship is Molly, daughter of the British Ambassador to Rundoon, and a mysterious trunk filled with a special treasure. The feared pirate Captain Black Stache knows there's a valuable treasure on board, though he doesn't know what it is. Peter befriends Molly and finds out that she and her father are Starcatchers, members of a centuries-old secret society that protects humanity by making sure that evil people don't get their hands on starstuff, magical material that falls from the stars and changes the nature of everything it touches.

Through storm, treachery, and shipwreck, Peter, Molly, and the boys end up on an island with the treasure, the pirates, fierce natives, the villainous first mate of the Never Land, mermaids created by the starstuff, and a giant crocodile. While Peter and Molly try to get the starstuff for the Starcatchers, everyone else is battling to get it for themselves.

Is it any good?


Though this book is unnecessarily long, it's an exciting adventure, fun in its own right.

It rarely works when a modern author seeks to write a sequel (or in this case a prequel) to a classic, and humor columnist Dave Barry, one of our reigning Sultans of Snide, hardly seems like the person to give it a try. But though his background shows up in the occasional and unnecessary sexual innuendo, otherwise this works surprisingly well.

He and co-author Ridley Pearson make some good choices at the outset. They do not attempt, in style, plot, or atmosphere, to mimic J.M. Barrie's masterpiece. Instead they cleverly create and bring together almost all of the characters and elements of the original: pirates, natives (no longer Indians in these culturally sensitive times), lost boys, mermaids, fairies, the crocodile, fairy dust, flying, not growing up, and the enchanted island itself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what this story has in common with the original. How is it similar, and where does it differ? Which do you like better, and why? Also, what are the book's major themes? Kids: Do you think not growing up is a good thing or a bad thing? Why?

Book details

Authors:Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
Illustrator:Greg Call
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:September 26, 2004
Number of pages:451
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byPuppeteergirl July 27, 2011

Worried about this book?

I really enjoy this series! I read it to my brothers and they beg me to continue when its time to stop. The only thing that bothers me about this series is the sneaky (and completely unnecessary) sexual content. Nothing horrid, but enough to make me purposefully skip certain sentences. For instance, one character's governess flirts and possibly has a sexual relationship with one of the villains (implied), and the mermaids look like naked women from the waist up (they have long hair that supposedly covers them). Some other stuff I didn't think necessary to skip: a mermaid saves Peter from drowning and gives him CPR and in his dazed state he thinks its a kiss (pretty silly actually)- a pirate captain has a special sail made that is shaped like a corset (image included in the book). I definitely recommend this series, but read it yourself first, so you can choose to skip stuff or not. The bad guys are bad, the good guys are good, but nobody's perfect, even the heroes.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written bySelenaGomezfan110 November 9, 2010

Why I rated this Iffy for ages 9-10

Peter is DEFINETLY NOT a good role model. He killed Mermaids!!!!! I think so, anyway, either that or he just hurt them. I can't remember. and there is some innuendo, like: 'he kissed a mermaid who was naked from the waist up'. and some cussing like He__ , D--n, and the like.And a little too much violence for littler kids. anyway, its a pretty good book, and it's not terribly Innapropriate; nothing explicit.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 12 years old June 23, 2010
i have always loved all of these books! the only thing dissapointing was the end of the 3rd one!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages


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