Peter Pan and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry

Peter Pan and the Secret of Rundoon

The long awaited prequel sequel sequel! The basic idea behind the series is the simple question, “what happened before?” Where was Peter before he was on the island? How did he come to fly? If you haven’t read the first two books, head to the library at this point, or look up reviews on the first (also recapped by Matt) and second books. Peter Pan is still on Mollusk Island, but many unanswered questions from the last book remain. An interesting one, that I hadn’t thought of, is: how did the Starcatchers know ahead of time when the stardust was going to fall (so they could get to it all the other times) and why weren’t they in on it the last time, in Peter Pan and the Shadow Thieves
? They were warned it would come, by a group of people called the Watchers. And they have been compromised.

Plot: Nothing is as you expect it to be, and the first third of the book is exposition to catch you up to all the characters and plotlines. Molly and the Aster family are living in London and trying to figure out more about Lord Ombra and his organization. Peter has gotten over his ego, but with the other boys growing taller than him, life on the island is still getting harder. The Mollusks, our nice Indians, are about to be attacked by Scorpions (bad Indians. And I am pleased to say, the Indians are real people in this book, and I really like them now). Meanwhile, Lord Aster does his now-stay-here-and-I-MEAN-IT speech umpteen times (more on that in positives), Lord Ombra is injured but back (for reasons that, actually, make sense by the time this plotline is resolved), Lord Aster does his ‘Bout-time-you-kids-got-here-I-need-your-help speech a further umpteen times, and Molly and George have discovered why Peter was so oddly affected by the starstuff. Oh, and Black Stache is still trying to get back at Peter, and His Royal Highness III is being evil still.

Positive: Actually resolves plot issues from the last couple of books in an unexpected way, which I find very impressive. Most kids books that become serialized like this (and despite the trilogy bit, I want a prequel sequel sequel) have a TV series quality about them, and tend to create more open plot threads than they sew up. The most positive thing, I think, was the allegorical aspects of the story {SPOILER WARNING}. To defeat evil, Peter has to separate himself from his shadow (his naturally evil self) and its implied he couldn’t do this by himself. Peter’s father died trying to save Peter. Light and Darkness are shown to be in conflict, with light gaining constantly. For a couple of Atheists, the authors are almost exactly theologically correct on this one (although Lord Ombra makes a comment to trivialize the importance of earth in the cosmos, its implied he is trying to just discourage our heroes, and that the opposite is true). Some points of the allegory are more subtle than others, but the general idea comes through quite clearly; I won’t give it all away or it’ll spoil everything. Also, this was more of an adventure than the previous books, being funny incidentally instead of as a driving plot point. This made the characters more engaging, since they weren’t the objects of sarcasm as often (Tinkerbell, especially, won my heart this time. Oh, and George is just awesome). Speaking of which, the authors play on your expectations of children’s literature. The adults aren’t always wrong, and the girls aren’t always right (FINALLY!)

Negative: I had some pretty set expectations from the first two books, so the opening chapters were frustrating to me, since it wasn’t at all what I expected to find happening. So aside from my needing to put aside my expectations and let the authors surprise me… same as last ones. The entire book is written in a funny-drama way. But its more of campfire-side-oooh-the-bear-is-coming-bwahaha scary, with the exception of one scene that I really did not find necessary. As usual, it’s the bad guys and how nasty they are; Indians who go through painful initiation rituals, evil person gets a face full of unpleasant stuff, and Lord Ombra inhabits a couple of characters (one of whom scratches his own face until it bleeds, which is very out of character for this series, and the one paragraph that is not necessary to the plot, so why the editor left it in is anybody’s guess. It’s a paragraph I plan to blot out of my copy).

Overall: I really loved this book, and highly recommend the entire series. Its very creative in describing the origins of Peter Pan, and makes all our favorite characters lovable in the process. George is smart, Tinkerbell is hilarious as comic relief, and the other characters are all followed so satisfactorily that I can’t even begin to review them all.

You can buy it here.


5 thoughts on “Peter Pan and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry

  1. Fun stuff. I love kids books…. So, I’m a little confused about the allegory. Could you elaborate on how this is an allegory to the Christian faith and not an illustration of the ying/yang concept? Not to cause you to much grief on a Monday morning….


  2. sorry about the long wait… the internet’s been down here from all the flooding. I’ll try posting shorter messages and see if they get through.

  3. yay! That worked! Finally.

    Second, the shadow people (aka, more Lord Ombra’s, who communicate in the dark, deep underground) are basically agents of darkness (like demons) who are fighting the onrush of light. Light and darkness (in the story) have been duking it out for many eons. Light’s been winning, and thus the universe, with its light-created stars, planets, and so on, is expanding. Streams of light pour out into the regions of the universe to accomplish this (creation), and one such stream is very close to earth (it is implied that this is a favor to earth. However, since its Lord Ombra who explains all this to our heros, its stated that this is a “leak in the plumbing of the universe”. That its our main evil character saying it, however, would seem to imply the opposite, particularly with Peter’s expeiriance with his shadow. Bad guys always have to say some big lie like that to discourage our heroes. Its like a job description. So I took it to mean the opposite, but its only implied in this sense of purposefulness). Stardust is the fallen-to-earth form of pure light, bursting occaisionally from the main stream and coming down to our world. So, Stardust would be a physical representation of the working of the Holy Spirit in the world. Spiritual power, in a sense (note that approaching it frivolously has disasterous consequences).

    Oh well, so much for a short first part. 🙂 what is ying and yang, by the way?

  4. Well, as for ying/yang, it is the concept of balance as taught by the orientals. It can stand for man with a bit of femininity within him and woman with a bit of masculinity in her. Otherwise, it is usually portrayed as good (represented by white) with a spot of blackness (or evil) and evil (black) with a spot of goodness. So in good there is evil and in evil there is good.

    Maybe that’s not quite fitting here (at least from what I understand of your response). It sounds as if it is a typical good versus evil which would obviously have some reflection of natural order (truth).

    I personally am hesitant to try and find to much “truth” in a story, but I suspect that has to do with seeing people try to teach salvation from Harry Potter and such stuff. In my opinion, it can be taken way to far. That’s not to say that you have done so, just explains why I am a bit cynical…. 😛

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