Reviews for Peter and the Starcatchers
Booklist Reviews 2004 September #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 4-7. Barry and Pearson, no strangers to the literary spotlight, offer humor and thrills for a young audience in this prequel to Peter Pan. At sea, unwittingly heading toward a perilous fate in a cruel king's court, Peter and a group of fellow orphans become involved in a plot to steal a mysterious star substance that can make people fly. Teenager Molly, also aboard ship, is one of the Starcatchers, those who want to preserve the integrity of the substance and save it from falling into the wrong hands. Alas, there are evil, grabby hands all around, including those of the cruel pirate Black Stache--though by book's end, Stache will have only one. It's not so much the story that's good here, though it's a rousing tale, and to the authors' credit, there are explanations for everything found in the classic story--from Peter's inability to grow up to the name Neverland. The real lure is the richly drawn characters, especially the villains, who exhibit just the right amount of swagger and smirk. The pacing is excellent as well. Although this is a long book, very short chapters make it manageable for younger readers, and the nonstop action will keep the pages turning. This deserves the hype. ((Reviewed September 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
In a story explaining how Peter Pan and the Lost Boys (here all orphans) and Captain Hook ended up in Never Land, Peter and the boys join forces with Molly, a Starcatcher. The book is slow and not nearly as funny as it wants to be; too many plot twists and stereotyped characters mar what could have been a wild pirate adventure. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #5
In a story explaining how Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook all ended up in Never Land, Peter and the boys are orphans, traveling on a decrepit ship to Rundoon, where they will become servants to King Zarboff -- who has a nasty habit of feeding his servants to his snake. Also on board is a girl named Molly, a Starcatcher; Starcatchers are people (and porpoises) who try to prevent "starstuff" (think fairy dust) from falling into the wrong hands. Through a series of unlikely events, the greatly feared pirate Black Stache (so-called for his mustache) captures the Never Land in an attempt to get the "greatest treasure ever taken to sea," but Peter and Molly jettison the chest containing the starstuff just as a huge storm destroys the Never Land. Somehow they all end up on Mollusk Island, where they fight amongst themselves -- as well as with the island's inhabitants and a group of mermaids (created by starstuff) -- to gain control of the treasure. The book is slow and not nearly as funny as it wants to be; too many plot twists and numerous heavily stereotyped characterizations mar what could have been a wild pirate adventure. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 August #1
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) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 August #4
Bestselling adult authors Barry and Pearson imagine a rollicking adventure as a prequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Those curious about how Captain Hook lost his hand, why Peter never ages and can fly, and how a band of boys came to live in Never Land, will be sated by the magic-dusted plot points and the lively pirate confabulation here. As the novel opens, Peter and several others from St. Norbert's Home for Wayward Boys are shipped off on the ship Never Land to be servants to the cruel King of Rundoon. On board, Peter meets Molly Aster (sharp readers will surmise she is an ancestor of Wendy), who reveals herself to Peter as a Starcatcher and imparts secrets of certain falling stars and the precious "starstuff" cache below deck. But all is not smooth sailing, as pirate Black Stache and his mates (including Smee) get wind of the treasure. Several sea chases and battles and a couple of shipwrecks later, all the key players end up on the island of Mollusk. As all sides try to obtain the gold-glowing contents of the trunk, talking dolphins and a giant crocodile also make the scene. The tale contains a few too many skirmishes over said treasure, but the authors keep the pace brisk and the chapters brief, employing humorous exchanges (e.g., Black Stache "had a real soft spot for his ma, and was truly sorry for the time he'd marooned her"), slapstick action and flying, of course. Peter Pan fans will find much to like in a what-if scenario that pays respectful tribute to the original. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 October
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.
VOYA Reviews 2004 December
How did Peter Pan learn to fly? Why does he live in Never Land? These questions and more are answered by these bestselling adult authors in their fanciful prequel to the story of Peter Pan. Peter's saga begins as he and his companions from the St. Norbert's Home for Wayward Boys are forcibly sent to the land of Rundoon so that they can serve the fearsome King Zarboff the Third. Peter and his friends must make the perilous journey across the high seas on a derelict ship called the Never Land, commanded by the cruel First Officer Slank. Peter soon befriends Molly, another young passenger who is on a secret mission to protect a trunk filled with a powerful and mysterious substance known as "starstuff." Molly and Peter face one dangerous adventure after another as they encounter a deadly storm, angry natives, ferocious mermaids, and of course, vicious pirates-led by you-know-who. As one would expect in a book co-authored by Barry, there are moments of his trademark quirky humor, but the emphasis in this tale is on the action. To some extent, the development of the characters and the emotional impact of the story suffer because of it. Peter is one of the main characters, yet by the end of the story readers still do not know him very well. But fans of fantasy adventure probably will not mind much because they will have had so much fun following Peter's daring exploits.-Amy Luedtke 4Q 4P M J Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.