There is a special kind of love I feel when I hear my husband telling an animated and silly story to our children. He becomes as much a child as they are as he describes the shenanigans of our favorite made up character ‘Foul Kitty.’ In reading Peter and the Starcatchers as well as its sequel Peter and the Shadow Thieves, I found that the writing voice is exactly that of a silly dad telling his version of how Peter Pan came to be. The voice of a dad, who perhaps still has not grown up all the way.
Unlike the original Peter Pan, there are no complex messages in these books. Peter and the Starcatchers just explains things like; how Peter came to the Island of Never Land, how he learned to fly, how the mermaids were formed, why he doesn’t grow up, and how Tinkerbell came into being. In the process of explaining these things, they tell a great and entertaining pirate romp of a story. This book ranks up there with some of Violet’s favorite books. Good battles evil, and except for a little good old fashioned stereotypical female jealousy everything falls exactly where it should. In addition to the naughty but loveable (seriously – all the female characters love him) character of Peter, there is Molly who is a strong girl character. I recommend this book for third graders on up. The story line jumps around, and can be a little challenging for younger kids to follow. There also is quite a bit of suspense, and, in between the silliness, threats of violence and death (think Disney death not Saving Private Ryan death). All in, this is a well-done prequel to the Disney version of Peter Pan. And while it doesn’t ask us to examine the universal resistance of men to mature, it might inspire many to read the real Peter Pan and ask just that. In the meantime, here’s to creative men getting in touch with their inner-story-telling-child.
– Jessica Wheeler
P.S. I also just finished the third in the series, The Secrets of Rundoon. It seems to have a totally different voice than the first two. Most of the silliness is gone, and the suspense is cranked up a notch or two. They focus on the idea that Peter has to save the world from total annihilation – so I suppose it is difficult to insert too much humor when the age old battle between light and dark hangs in the balance. I asked Violet, and she said she still thought there were funny parts, though.