Book Review: Peter and the Starcatchers
By Aruna Bewtra
Dave Barry and Ridely Pearson’s Peter and the Starcatchers is a prequel to the original Peter Pan story. It is a fast-paced adventure story for kids, perfect for children who want to learn more about Peter and the Lost Boys. The story gives explanations for Peter’s eternal youth, the existence of Neverland, and Peter’s ability to fly. This is the first book in a series of five, however, the first three stand alone as a trilogy. Peter and the Starcatchers was also made into a successful Broadway play.
The book begins with Peter as a troublesome orphan in London, who is sent off with several of his friends to serve an evil king. On his voyage aboard a ship called The Never Land, Peter meets and befriends a girl named Molly. Peter soon learns that Molly is guarding a mysterious trunk that contains a magical substance called “starstuff” (the precursor to Peter’s fairy dust). When pirates, led by the dreaded Pirate Black Stache (later known as Captain Hook), attack and attempt to steal the starstuff, Molly convinces Peter and the boys that they must protect it at any cost. Several sea battles ensue, and eventually The Never Land is shipwrecked on an island where the battle for the trunk’s treasure continues between the Lost Boys, pirates, and the island’s natives.
This is an action-packed story for kids, and several of the battle scenes could be frightening to younger children. However, the strength of the story lies in its characters. At the start of the book, Peter is a young, mischievous lad, whose only concern is having fun with his friends. Over time, he learns – with help from responsible, level-headed Molly – the importance of loyalty and responsibility, and he becomes a more capable leader to the other boys. Molly, in turn, learns to be brave and to take more risks through their adventures. The illustrations, done by Greg Call, are whimsical and help capture the action and excitement of the story.
This is a longer book (450 pages), and the fight scenes make it more suitable for slightly older children. It would be a few weeks of thrilling bedtime reading for 8- to 10-year-olds, or an exciting book for 10- to 12-year-olds to read alone. The trilogy set can be purchased here. If you have a young reader who enjoys Peter Pan, pirates, and adventure, this story for kids will be a sure favorite.