Do you remember the first time you experienced the story of Peter Pan? I can’t quite remember whether I saw the Disney cartoon or watched an old movie with a girl playing the lead role first. I do remember being thoroughly upset with having a GIRL play a boy’s part in that movie. The adults seemed to handle this fact OK, but then they were adults. What would they understand anyway? Peter Pan represented a boy’s world and to use a girl undermines the entire point. (Of course, I now find that Peter Pan is traditionally played by girls, but I still find that at odds with the purpose of the script.)
Peter and the Starcatchers captures the power of the original story. Most children wrestle with two competing desires: the desire to be a grownup and the desire to play all of the time without responsibility. For every little boy (and even big boys) stories of pirates and stories of Indians are thrilling. Besides, who could turn down the ability to fly? These elements were mixed well by J. M. Barrie (the original author of Peter Pan). In Peter and the Starcatchers these elements are begun as separate threads and woven expertly together to form the world of Neverland and Peter Pan.
In an engaging style, Barry and Pearson draw the reader into the story behind Peter Pan. Who is Peter Pan? How did he become the never-aging flying boy? Attempting to answer these questions and many more, this story begins with Peter and the four (future) lost boys being sent away from the horrid orphanage St. Norberts. They are thrown onto the dumpy little ship Never Land and life only gets worse as the food still moves in the bowl, the scruffy crew dislikes them and the captain remains drunk in his cabin. They are off on an adventure that will change them forever.
Over the course of the story, Peter encounters two enemies in an ancient battle of good and evil. He meets Mr. Grin, Black Stache (as in mustache) the fearsome pirate, Fighting Prawn the Indian and many more enjoyable characters. Peter teams up with Molly, another passenger on the Never Land to fight evil over the greatest treasure in history. Action filled pages keep every reader seeking more. All too soon, the story ends leaving you wishing for more. This is not a desire because the book leaves you feeling empty, but because the story is so enjoyable that you wish it would never end. This is a fitting statement for a book about never-ending youth.
Besides being delightful reading for all ages, this book is a great tool for teaching children to handle objectionable elements. With two swear words and some violence this 400+ page book has relatively minor problems. Further, the book presents the opportunity to deal with the effects of slavery, cruelty, and people’s reaction to them. All told, a pleasurable read.