Peter and the Starcatchers, Book 1

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Peter and the Starcatchers, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
A swashbuckling high-seas adventure.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 41 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Peter and thre Starcatchers, by Dave Barry and Ridley Peason, is the first of a four-book series that imagines Peter's adventures before the action chronicled in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan.  Here an orphan boy named Peter and his friend Molly overcome bands of pirates and thieves and travel to an island on a ship named Never Land. There's plenty of peril and fighting, and adult sailors and pirates get drunk on rum and grog. There's occasional and unnecessary sexual innuendo for a book aimed at tweens, and and Peter kisses a mermaid who's naked from the waist up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 and 13-year-old Written byzapfam May 30, 2009

Best Peter Pan Story Ever

This has got to be the best story ever....other than the two that follow it..Its based off the Disney Peter Pan cartoon really. And is a Disney Book actually.... Continue reading
Adult Written byhelenessister April 9, 2008

We haven't had this much fun in a long time

I read this book aloud to my two children (8 and 11). The chapters are short and fast paced. Each night we would read two or three chapters before bed. (with a... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous September 13, 2020


This is the best book ever. It truly draws all the connections in the classic Peter Pan movie had. It makes the entire story make sense. It's high-stakes a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysafecracker May 16, 2020

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?

This is prequel to the classic Peter Pan story is an exciting adventure by humor columnist Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. The co-authors  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), lost boys, mermaids, fairies, the crocodile, fairy dust, flying, not growing up, and the enchanted island itself. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Peter and the Starcatchers has in common with Peter Pan. How is it similar, and where does it differ? Which do you like better, and why?

  • What are the book's major themes?

  • Do you think not growing up is a good thing or a bad thing? Why?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales and adventure stories

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate