Peter and the Starcatchers
What parents need to know
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?
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. Though it's unnecessarily long, it's an exciting adventure, fun in its own right.
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?