Title: Peter and the Starcatchers
Author: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Length: 451 pages
Banter Points: Peter and the Starcatchers has a very clever premise, explaining the backstory to Peter Pan and how a certain boy named Peter ends up in Neverland with the power to fly and a lifetime enemy of Captain Hook. Parts of this book are also like Patrick O'Brien-light as Barry and Pearson craft some wonderful sea battles and keep enough nautical terms in the story to give it a sense of realism. The chapters read very fast -- many are only a few pages long -- and switch back and forth from character to character to keep the reader in step with where all the good guys and all the bad guys are at all times. The story is light and whimsical with some laugh-out-loud moments.
Bummer Points: Barry and Pearson, sadly, broke one of the cardinal rules of fiction -- show, don't tell. Most of the resolution of the book is explanation, not action. Peter, the hero of our story, disappears for several chapters and then later tells the other characters what he was doing. Since Barry and Pearson kept switching which character was the focus of each chapter, it doesn't make sense that they just left Peter out. It would have been possible, Word Nerd suspects, to keep Peter in the story but not give away entirely everything that happened until the resolution.
Word Nerd recommendation: It's possible that a reader in the age group that the book was intended for would not have the same hang-ups with the end as Word Nerd did. The ending though is not reason enough to pass up Peter and its enchating history that fills in the gaps of a very familiar story. Also, for anybody with the slightest talent for doing voices, this would be a great book to read aloud to kids with all the possibilities for doing Mr. Smee, the Black Stache, Peter and all the other characters.