The Barnes & Noble Review
Bestselling authors Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson turn back the clock and set their sights on younger readers, teaming up for an action-packed prequel to J. M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan. Fast paced and brimming with seafaring adventure, Barry and Ridley's modern update returns to preNever Land days, quickly zeroing in on Peter, now a "wayward boy" who finds himself aboard a ship (called the Never Land) with other chums from St. Norbert's. Soon, Peter meets the headmaster's mysterious daughter and persuades her to reveal her secret about a chest full of "starstuff" -- a substance that can make people fly and give them other magical qualities -- that's being claimed by the British throne. Unfortunately, the scheming pirate Black Stache has his own plans for the powder-filled chest, and the plot thickens as readers are whisked from dramatic high-seas battles to a deserted island, where the dreaded villain eventually loses his hand to the legendary crocodile and where Peter makes his home. From beginning to end, the authors don't skimp on cliff-hanging turns of events, dishing up an inventive spin on Peter Pan's background that should sit well with audiences young and old. If you pick up Barrie's original first, Ridley and Barry's book won't suffer by comparison, a true testament to this team's remarkable writing style; and if you haven't yet read Barrie, Peter and the Starcatchers will make you eager to experience Peter Pan. With Disney at the helm of this book, too, the film promises to be but a heartbeat away. Matt Warner
Ever wonder how Captain Hook lost his hand to a crocodile? Then crack open this thoroughly entertaining prequel to Peter Pan. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Barry and bestselling thriller writer Pearson tie up loose ends with a rollicking story that stretches from an English orphanage across a turbulent sea to faraway Mollusk Island. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
"Bestselling adult authors Barry and Pearson imagine a rollicking adventure as a prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan," wrote PW. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
This Peter Pan prequel hooks readers on the first page. Luring readers with mysterious characters and treasure, cliffhanging chapters reel them in and heighten the suspense even though most readers will know where the story is headed. Most of the familiar characters are present: Captain Hook (named Black Stache), pirates, the Lost Boys, Indians, Tinkerbell, and the crocodile (Mister Grin). New characters, particularly resourceful Molly Aster and the secretive Starcatchers, add to the lore. Sailing aboard the dilapidated Never Land, Peter and fellow orphans seem destined for servitude in King Zarboff's Rundoon court until a storm shipwrecks them on an island. A trunk filled with magical starstuff connects characters as they scheme, manipulate, deceive, and steal to secure the life-enhancing dust. The theme of good versus evil prevails. Sadistic Black Stache delights in cruelly assaulting both his crew and enemies. Peter loyally comforts and defends his friends. The trunk's possession alternates between honorable protectors and greedy thieves. Humor buoys even the grittiest, most horrendous scenes; some can be risque such as the pirates' brassiere sail and the amorous antics of Molly's chaperone, Mrs. Bumbrake, with daft Captain Slank. Readers will not be surprised by the plot resolutions. This book's obvious pairing is J.M. Barrie's original Peter Pan texts, and readers should also consider Avi's pirate adventure, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1990). 2004, Disney/Hyperion, Ages 10 up.
Elizabeth D. Schafer
An orphan boy named Peter, a fierce pirate, and sparkly stuff that lets you fly...there's something familiar about this book. Yes, indeed, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have written a prequel to Peter Pan, showing how many of its most beloved icons came to be. Orphan Peter and his friends are sent off to become servants of evil King Zarboff III of Rungoon. But their ship is taken over by pirates, led by the infamous Black Stache, and soon everyone finds themselves on an uncharted island with crocodiles, mermaids and a trunk full of magical "starstuff" that many are willing to kill for. Peter and the brave Molly must find a way to get the trunk to the proper authorities, however great the risk to their own lives. This is a rollicking good adventure and a delight for Peter Pan fans of all ages. For all collections. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Hyperion, 451p., $7.99.. Ages 12 to 18.
Gr 5-9-This prequel to Peter Pan refers as much to the 1953 animated Disney film as to J. M. Barrie's original play and novel. The early chapters introduce the archetypal antagonists: Peter, leader of a group of orphan boys being sent into slavery aboard the Never Land, and Black Stache, a fearsome pirate who commands a villainous crew. New characters include Molly Aster and her father. Molly, at 14, is an apprentice Starcatcher, a secret society formed to keep evildoers from obtaining "starstuff," magic material that falls to earth and conveys happiness, power, increased intelligence, and the ability to fly. Inevitably, the ships wreck off a tropical island and a trunk of starstuff is temporarily lost. Here, readers meet more familiar characters: the mermaids in their lagoon; the indigenous people who live in the jungle (modern versions of Barrie's redskins); and, of course, the crocodile. The authors plait multiple story lines together in short, fast-moving chapters, with the growing friendship between Molly and Peter at the narrative's emotional center. Capitalizing on familiar material, this adventure is carefully crafted to set the stage for Peter's later exploits. This smoothly written page-turner just might send readers back to the original.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A much-loved humorist and a renowned writer of adult thrillers make a strong combined crossover bid with this compulsively readable prequel to Peter Pan. The plot revolves around a trunk full of "starstuff," a celestial substance that induces both feelings of well-being and unpredictable physical changes (the ability to fly or to stop aging) in those who handle it. When a secret society called Starcatchers tries transporting the starstuff to safety, the shipment is hijacked for nefarious purposes by the wonderfully named Slank-after which it changes hands over and over as a quintet of orphans led by alpha male Peter, feared pirate Black Stache (named for his facial hair), mermaids, island folk, and an oversized crocodile dubbed Mister Grin are thrown into the never-a-dull-moment plot. Despite continual danger and violence, wounds and corpses disappear with Disney-like speed, and by the end, all the major characters except Wendy and sibs appear onstage (and Black Stache is ready for a new moniker). This doesn't capture the subtler literary qualities of its progenitor, but readers drawn by authorial star power or swashbuckling will come away satisfied. (Fiction. 11-13, adult)