Peter and the Starcatchers
by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry
Absolutely worth your while. While it's hardly a work of transcendently mystical childhood magic, it's a remarkably original - but consistent - take on Barrie's curious classic. I have heard from a book-shopping child-reader that the third in the series, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, isn't nearly as good as the first two. But the first was pretty darn good, so that leaves 'not as good' to be rather not that bad. Pearson and Barry depict the old familiars (Smee, Hook, the Lost Boys) with creative flair. It does not feel like they are rewriting them as much as shedding new light on their origins. Which was, incidentally, the point.
Though I will admit that the ending felt a bit too tidily wrapped up. Knowing that there are sequels, I couldn't help but feel that some things could have been saved for later - the bit about Peter flying and his youth and the chomping of Mr Grin. None of this will make sense unless you read it, of course. So read it. Better yet, read it aloud. To a child, a teenager, a spouse, or a pet.
If anyone cares to read along with me, I am going slowly through Neuhaus's Death on a Friday Afternoon for Lent. More accessibly, I am also planning to read through Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane sometime this week. Perhaps I will read it aloud as well. If you would like to hear a chapter, come on over. I'll be at my couch, surrounded by Mike and sugar-free snacks. You for whom this invitation applies, you know who you are. And if you'd like to read The Little Prince first, I will gladly postpone the rabbit for the celestial royalty. Better yet, let's meet at the park. Tomorrow afternoon? Bring me a latte; I'll bring you a fabulous passage from Henri Nouwen to chew on. Meanwhile, it seems an appropriate time to break out my adult-interpretation of the Peter-Molly dynamic. (This is not a mere personalization; the sidekick in Pearson and Barry's novel is named Molly.) Here's a poem I wrote in Edinburgh about a year ago:
Little Peter, when your wondrous tree
was taken over by the wicked Smee
and his taller front, captain of such ferocity,
captain of the saber and the hook,
I waited on the branches above
amidst the debris from the catastrophe
for your flighty form.
It came; you flew to me though it was dark
(your powers of scent were ever acute)
and we plotted both revenge and liberty.
Our tasks complex but your acts so skillful,
I hesitated not to offer up either cheeks or lips
to your sneaky service.
But our adventures were too quick and plenty
to record the kisses of knight and lady
(though unbeknownst to you, I keep
your cap's lost feather
where your hands alone will find).