Have you ever wondered what happened before Peter Pan? How did Peter meet Tinkerbell?Peter and the Starcatchers is a best-selling children’s novel that was published by Hyperion Books. It is written by humorist Dave Barry and suspense writer Ridley Peterson, the book provides a backstory for the character Peter Pan, and serves as a prequel to J. M. Barrie’s novel Peter and Wendy. It was illustrated by artist Greg Call.This book introduces us to characters both new and old as we explore the high seas.
Peter and his ragtag group of orphans are forced into slavery and being delivered to their new master on the island of Rundoon by the leaky vessel known as The Neverland. Rundoon is known to be governed by a barbaric king, whose acts of torture and abuse–such as the time he fed his father to his pet snake–are well-known throughout the empire. The boys know they need a way out…now! The answer? They needed a leader. Peter gains leader status by being the oldest and, of course, being able to spit the farthest. The orphans quickly realize they need his help and look to him for help in planning a way to escape what appears to be a forlorn fate. This leaky ship is hardly more than a rusty bucket of bolts infested with rats. Life looks grim for the boys as they are being served meals that sometimes…well…are still moving, the boys know they have little to look forward to, even if they could escape the torture and abuse of the second-in-command, Slank.
As it happens, as the ship was loading these poor boys, a large trunk was placed in the hold of the vessel, and locked up tight. There is clearly something very special and magical about this trunk–whoever touches it is healed, begins to sense of the beauty if the universe, and feels a profound sense of happiness and well-being. Peter is determined to find out what treasure this trunk holds, and in doing so he runs across Molly Aster, the only daughter of the man who is scheduled to be the ambassador on Rundoon, and who has–oddly enough–booked his passage separate from his daughter.
Initially, Molly clearly knows more about the trunk than she will tell Peter, but she is forced to take him into her confidence as Black Stache, the most dangerous pirate on the high seas, successfully attacks first Molly’s father’s ship and then heads for “The Neverland.”
What the trunk holds is much more than simple treasure; the contents are so powerful as to be connected to the ongoing struggle between good and evil that pervades the universe. Peter and Molly valiantly try to fight off both Stache and their ship’s own Slank from the trunk, but the battle for it takes a backseat as a violent storm whips up, and all the boys, Molly, Stache, and Slank wind up on an island inhabited by savages where visitors are promptly fed to a vicious beast in order to strongly discourage them from ever returning.
Thanks to Molly and Peter, the trunk of starstuff is safe, returned to the Starcatchers and Molly’s living father. Peter however, in his surviving exposure to the starstuff, has gained the permanent ability to fly. It is also uncertain as to whether or not he will ever age. Peter learns he will be an outcast, and even though Molly will return to London, he decides to stay on the island, so he can be the person he “really is” and not “a circus sideshow”. The orphan boys decide to remain with him, and Leonard Aster creates a fairy, which they name Tinker Bell, to protect Peter.
Peter and the other orphan boys are soon taught by the natives how to build a house, and they learn to survive on the island, which Peter names “Never Land” after finding a plank that said “Never Land” from the ship that wrecked on its rocks as he watches Molly, and only Molly, on the ship containing a few starcatchers, Leonard, Alf, and of course, Molly sail back to England.
This book is filled with wonderful imagination and adventure. I can’t wait to read the next installment in the series.
Greenbrier Academy Cybrarian