Sunday, March 11, 2007

Peter and the Starcatchers

Have you ever wondered why Peter Pan never grows up? Or why Captain Hook hates him? Where did that giant crocodile come from? And why are the mermaids jealous of Wendy?
We were able to answer those questions by reading "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. We just finished it, all 79 chapters. We've read about two chapters per night, so we've been working on this for quite a while. My six-year-old daughter loved it. She said her favorite part was when (*SPOILER ALERT!*) the good guys finally beat the bad guys. She found this book endlessly exciting, often wailing that we couldn't stop reading with the heroes in peril. However, when almost every chapter ends with a cliff hanger, you never get to stop at a boring place.
For me, the book had a lot of drama and humor, as you would expect from this combination of authors. It was fun to see the plot twist around to set everything up for the original "Peter Pan" story (this is a good time to admit that I've never actually read "Peter Pan", but I am well acquainted with the Disney movie.) Some of the humor went over my daughter's head, for example when a pirate ship puts up its special, high-speed sails referred to as "the ladies" and the illustration shows sails that resemble an enormous corset with huge bosoms.
In general, this book is probably more appropriate for older children than six years olds. The children in the story are frequently in mortal danger, threatened with whips, swords, and the aforementioned giant crocodile. A pirate asks for his cabin boy and is reminded that he made the boy walk the plank. There is a lot of talk about children and other people being beaten or killed. I thought this would be disturbing to my daughter, but she seemed to completely trust that the "good guys" would all be fine at the end of the book. But for some younger children, I think this book could be very scary.
For me, the most irritating part of this book was also a part of the movie "Peter Pan" that always bothered me. Why are all the female characters competing with each other for Peter's attention? I found the "humorous" comments about female jealousy to be annoying, not funny. But, as I said, this female jealousy theme is in the "Peter Pan" movie also, so maybe Barry and Pearson were just duplicating that part of the story.
So, anyway, I had some issues with this book, but my daughter did not. She thought it was great fun and very exciting. For kids who love action and adventure on the high seas, this could be a great read.

1 comment:

Terry said...


Your experience with this book reminds me of a review I read by Anne Fadiman who said something similar about a C.S. Lewis children's title (not the Narnia Chronicles). I'll try to track it down and send you the bib info.