Monday, January 20, 2014

Pirates + Fairy Dust = Peter and the Starcatchers

J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan left a lot of unanswered questions such as: How did Peter and the boys get to the island? Where did the pirates come from? Why are there mermaids on the island? How did Peter and Tinkerbell meet? Why is Peter the only one who can fly without fairy dust? Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson took these questions and used them to write a Peter Pan origin story and I seeing how all the disparate parts fit together to make sense with the original Peter Pan.

Title: Peter and the Starcatchers
Author: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Length: 451 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Series or Stand Alone: Book 1 of 4
Content appropriate for: Grades 4-7

Three adjectives that describe this book: adventurous, entertaining, uneven

I'm not a huge fan of Peter Pan, though, so I wasn't sure that I would enjoy it. But the audiobook is read by Jim Dale, and I could listen to him read an operation manual. The book starts off with a great deal of exciting pirate action, and ends with a massive run-around-the-island-while-being-chased sequence that lasts for about a quarter of the book. Everything in the middle, though, was really really blah.

The most blantantly awful part was the 50 minutes of expository writing, in which one character explained to Peter about magical dust and its powers. I'm not exaggerating. Jim Dale tried his best to make this terrible monologue of doom interesting, but it just wasn't. I almost abandoned the book halfway through those 50 minutes, but I decided to hold out until the plot made its triumphant return. I'm glad that I did because the ending was super fun.

I think this is a common mistake made when people who aren't used to writing for kids. They don't give them enough credit so instead of doling out the world-building in subtle ways, they hit the reader over the head. This is an extreme example, and those 50 minutes of explaining things really crippled this otherwise wonderful book.
3 stars

I read this book for the Read By Ear category of the Reading Outside the Box Challenge. It also qualifies for The 2014 Audiobook Challenge, The Official TBR Pile Challenge, and I Love Library Books.


  1. That's a real bummer that Jim Dale couldn't save this book. I know I had a hard time with the book when I read it years ago.

  2. I agree! He is an incredible narrator... but I guess he can only do so much with pages and pages of explanatory text. Other than the Harry Potter books which are, obviously, fabulous, I really enjoy his telling of the Emerald Atlas books.

  3. Oh! I had been recommended Jim Dale as an audiobook narrator and was so excited to listen to this. I guess I'll choose another title :)

    1. Jim Dale IS an incredible narrator - he's actually my favorite :) I recommend listening to The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens or the Harry Potter series.

    2. Actually, I'm just realising that it was your recommendation what made me look up Jim Dale in the first place! I'd rather wait for The Books of Beginning to be finished before I start listening to it, but I never say no to a HP re-read ;)