Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Peter and the Starcatchers

Barry, Dave, and Ridley Pearson. 2004. PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS. New York: Hyperion. ISBN: 0786854456. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]

PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS is a fast-paced prequel to J.M. Barrie’s PETER PAN. Peter is one of five orphans on his way to the faraway kingdom of Rundoon on the rundown ship The Never Land where they will enter the service of a cruel king. As the leader of his gang, Peter takes his responsibilities seriously. He’s determined to find a way to save them all from an unpleasant fate. But even Peter couldn’t predict how the trip would end. Other ships in on the adventure are the British ship The Wasp and the pirate ship The Sea Devil, which is commanded by the dreaded Black Stache known for his thick black mustache that is over a foot long. While some felt that Black Stache had no heart—the reader knows differently—after all “he had a real soft spot for his ma, and was truly sorry for the time he’d marooned her” (47). The pirates are after the “greatest treasure” that ever sailed on the seas which is hidden away on the ship The Never Land. Molly, a young girl, is a Starcatcher trying to prevent the trunk of Starstuff (a magical dust that falls from the heavens with some falling stars) from falling into the wrong hands. This exciting game of hide and seek takes place on several ships and one small inhabited island full of angry natives and one hungry crocodile (Mr. Grin) who has cultivated a taste for human flesh.

Full of bad guys, good guys, and countless chase scenes, PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS never fails to entertain. Its short chapters complement the changing narration and the quick pace of the novel. The black and white illustrations by Greg Call capture the tone—particularly his rendering of the evil pirate Black Stache found on page 81. And I think children will find the pirate vessel’s sails particularly amusing—the sails are based on a woman’s brassiere (page 103). An audio book is available as well.

Many characters in the book have unique nicknames (Black Stache, Slank, Leatherface, etc). Have children invent their own “pirate” nicknames.

Other books about pirates:
Lincoln, Margarette. THE PIRATE’S HANDBOOK. ISBN 9780140559880.
Walker, Richard. THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF PIRATES. ISBN 0901223795.

By Becky Laney

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