Thursday, February 23, 2006

Middle-Grade Fiction: Peter and the Starcatchers

I just finished reading PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. I had finished my last book and was searching the house for my next conquest. I have a stack of books I want to read on the bookcase in my bedroom but none seemed to fit my mood. I wandered into my son's room to check his bookcase. We receive a lot of middle-grade books to review, so he always has a stack of new arrivals. Actually, he usually plows through each book as soon as it arrives, and I'm usually lagging behind. I ended up ignoring some of the review possibilities to read this one just for fun.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS is a prequel to J.M. Barrie's PETER PAN. As the story goes, Ridley Pearson (a popular fiction writer) was reading PETER PAN to his daughter one night, and she asked him how Peter got to be Peter Pan. That got him thinking, and he ended up teaming up with Dave Barry to create their version of how Peter Pan came to be.

The book was just what I was looking for: an enjoyable escape. I loved how the book filled in the gaps of the well-known tale of Peter Pan, explaining why he can fly, how he got to the island, and how he made an enemy of the famed pirate. I thought that Ridley and Barry's imaginative pre-story was just right and fit J.M. Barrie's famous tale well. In fact, reading this book made me want to read the original PETER PAN, as I'm embarrassed to admit I'm only familiar with the Disney and Hollywood versions.

PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS is an excellent book for middle-grade readers (and grown-ups, too!), building on a well-loved character and filled with adventure, magic, and a touch of Dave Barry's signature humor. It was a pleasant and satisfying read.

(NOTE: Since this review was written, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have written 2 sequels: Peter and the Shadow Thief and Peter and the Secrets of Rundoon).