Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers

Infobox Book |
name = Peter and the Starcatchers

image_caption =
author = Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson
illustrator = Greg Call
language = English
publisher = Hyperion Books for Children
pub_date = 2004
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 452 pp (hardcover edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-7868-5445-6
followed_by = Peter and the Shadow Thieves

"Peter and the Starcatchers" is a best-selling children's novel that was published by Hyperion Books, a subsidiary of Disney, in 2004. Written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the book provides a backstory for the character Peter Pan, and serves as a prequel to J. M. Barrie's novel "Peter and Wendy". It was illustrated by artist Greg Call.

The book is followed by two sequels, also set before the famous adventure with Peter and Wendy: "Peter and the Shadow Thieves" (2006) and "Peter and the Secret of Rundoon" (2007). A series of five Never Land chapter books has begun, the first two of which are "Escape from the Carnivale" and "Cave of the Dark Wind". In May 2008 the writers announced a fourth book: "Peter and the Sword of Mercy". [ [ Pearson's web site] ] [ [ Barry's web site] ]

In 2005, Disney hired Jay Wolpert to adapt the book to film, reportedly to use 3D animation. [ [] ] A stage play version of the book is currently in the works for a winter 2009 debut at La Jolla Playhouse, as part of an arrangement with Disney Theatrical. [cite news | last=Jones | first=Kenneth | title=Can He Fly? Disney and La Jolla Will Test Wings of Starcatchers — a Peter Pan Prequel | | date=2008-07-28 | url= accessdate=2008-07-29]

Plot summary

The story begins on a ship the "Never Land". A young orphan boy, Peter, and his four friends, Prentiss, James, Thomas, and Tubby Ted, have been sent from St. Norbert's Home for Wayward Boys to board the ship, and soon find out they are going to serve as slaves to ruthless King Zarboff III of Rundoon. Living in terrible conditions, Peter and his friends plot for a way to escape. However, while on the ship, Peter (the future Peter Pan and the novel's hero) meets a young girl named Molly Aster. Cocky Peter is thrown off his guard by the spirited Molly - he also develops an affection for her, drawn to her by her striking green eyes. Peter encounters Molly several times while wandering the ship, and finds her somewhat mysterious.

Soon, strange things begin happening on the "Never Land". While foraging for food, Peter has discovered an old, battered chest on board, (and above it a flying rat) and finds that Molly and the crewmen Slank and Alf know things about it that he does not. Peter soon confronts Molly and she tells him, after realizing she cannot keep the secret much longer, that she is an apprentice to a group of people called the Starcatchers. Molly explains that the job of Starcatchers is to gather "starstuff" that falls from shooting stars and protect it from people called "the Others", who will misuse its wonderful powers. She also says that the "Others" had been losing the struggle for the "starstuff" until this batch fell to earth. She tells Peter of her discovery that the trunks were switched by the "Others" and that the fake is on her father's ship the "Wasp". Peter does not believe her at first, but Molly goes on to prove starstuff's power by showing Peter that she has the ability to fly. Molly attributes much of the violence in the world to struggles over starstuff. She tells Peter that people like Attila the Hun, the evil dictator, abused starstuff to gain power, and she says that centaurs and sea serpents were originally animals mutated by starstuff's powers. She also says that the genius of artists like Leonardo da Vinci was due to starstuff. She asks Peter to help her protect the "starstuff" on board. The "starstuff" was not expected to be on the "Never Land". It was thought to be on the "Wasp".

Meanwhile, the pirate Black Stache has planned and plotted to capture a naval ship named "The Wasp". "The Wasp" is the fastest ship on the sea, and in order to catch it, Stache raises a gigantic, black, brassiere-shaped sail he calls "The Ladies". He speeds up to catch the ship, captures it, and renames it the "Jolly Roger". He does not know that Molly's father, the great Starcatcher Leonard Aster, was on board with the decoy "starstuff" trunk full of sand. Leonard escapes the capture of Black Stache, but the "Never Land" does not.

When the "Never Land" is attacked by Black Stache during a massive thunderstorm, the decrepit ship wrecks on the rocks surrounding a small island. The few survivors - including Molly, Peter, Alf, and the orphans, are separated, but they individually take shelter on the island. The sailor Alf helps to guide the orphans, but they are soon captured by the Mollusk Tribe native to the island, and nearly fed to the tribe's neighbor, crocodile Mr. Grin. Soon Molly and Peter realize that the trunk of starstuff has disappeared, and together they embark on a search for it. At the same time, the seaman Slank, who is actually one of the "Others", is trying to get control of the starstuff. Even Black Stache has caught wind of its magic powers. Molly and Peter try to find the magic trunk, but break away when they have an argument. Many adventures ensue while the two are apart - Peter is nearly fed to the Crocodile, Molly is captured by Slank and Stache, Peter is repeatedly wounded but saved by mermaids. After a climactic battle with the villains, Peter cuts off Stache's left hand, which is eaten by Mr. Grin. Slank and his cohort Little Richard are defeated as well, but during the battle, the tribe's leader, Fighting Prawn, is accidentally wounded. Luckily, Peter has a small amount of remaining starstuff, which he uses to heal the Mollusk chief.

Thanks to Molly and Peter's efforts, the trunk of starstuff is saved, returned to the Starcatchers and Molly's surviving father. Peter however, in his surviving exposure to the starstuff, has gained the permanent ability to fly. It is also uncertain as to whether or not he will ever age. Peter learns he will be an outcast, and even though Molly will return to London, he decides to stay on the island, so he can be the person he "really is" and not "a freakshow". The orphan boys decide to remain with him, and Leonard Aster creates a fairy, which they name Tinker Bell, to protect Peter. Peter and the other orphan boys are soon taught by the natives how to build a house, and they learn to survive on the island, which Peter names "Never Land" after finding a plank that said "Never Land" from the ship that wrecked on its rocks as he watches the ship containing Molly sail back to England.


Many of the characters from "Peter and the Starcatchers" are brand new characters created for the novel. However, a few characters are also mentioned in "Peter and Wendy".

*Peter - Peter is the clever, cocky leader of a band of orphans on board the "Never Land". Described as orange-haired and blue-eyed, he is approximately fourteen years old. Peter gained leader status by being the oldest and being able to spit the farthest. Peter learns to fly by being exposed to a large amount of starstuff and surviving. By the end of the novel, Peter is stranded as an outcast on Mollusk Island, with the fairy Tinker Bell and his orphan friends. He does not earn the surname "Pan" in this novel. He is Peter Pan though it does not say it.

*Molly - Molly Aster is the heroine of the novel. She is daughter to the new ambassador to Rundoon, the famous Starcatcher Leonard Aster. Molly is an independent, strong-minded fourteen-year-old. Though surviving the wreck of the "Never Land" (and saving Peter in the process), while on Mollusk Island she is kidnapped by Slank. She is later rescued by Peter. After helping to retrieve the starstuff, Molly joins her father and sails back to her hometown in London. Molly can apparently speak the porpoise language, although she is not very fluent and constantly tells them her teeth are green.

*The Lost Boys - The Lost Boys (first called Lost Boys in "Peter and the Shadow Thieves") were originally orphans from St. Norbert's Home for Wayward Boys. James is leader to Thomas, Prentiss, and Tubby Ted when Peter is not around. Tubby Ted so nicknamed because he is always ready to eat.

*Black Stache - Black Stache is a disgusting, filthy pirate, captain of the ship "The Sea Devil". Named Black Stache because of a near foot long mustache that he keeps perfectly groomed. He eats raw meat and keeps a very dirty cabin, earning the nickname of "Rat Breath" by his crew. Stache is very resourceful, capturing the naval ship "The Wasp" by using a corset-shaped sail. Black Stache is actually the future Captain Hook - his hand is cut off by Peter near the end of the novel.

*Smee - Mr. Smee is the idiotic first mate of the ship "The Sea Devil", and Black Stache's assistant.

*Slank - Mr. Slank is the evil first-mate and second-in-command of the ship "The Never Land". Slank is one of the "Others" who use starstuff corruptly, and he and his giant sidekick Little Richard try to steal the trunk of starstuff throughout the novel. Slank eventually escapes the wrath of Peter, but does not manage to get hold of the starstuff.

*Alf - Alf is the elderly sailor from the ship "The Never Land" who helps Peter in saving the starstuff. Alf is one of the first characters to experience the power of starstuff in chapter two of the novel. He decides to go home to England at the end of the novel.

*Fighting Prawn - Fighting Prawn is the chief of the Mollusk Tribe. He harbors a great hatred for Englishmen, after he and his brothers were taken as slaves by English men who arrived on the island. Fighting Prawn was accidentally stabbed and nearly killed, but Peter healed him with a bit of starstuff.

*Teacher - Teacher is leader of the mermaids on Mollusk Island, one of the first to form as the result of starstuff. She is a particularly beautiful, blond mermaid, although she does not speak English but talks to Peter with her mind. She and her fellow mermaids help Peter several times while he is on the island, including diverting the paths of the villains.

Differences from the works of Barrie

Although "Peter and the Starcatchers" and its follow-ups are presented as prequels to "Peter and Wendy", they have a number of continuity differences with the original novel, particularly contradicting the material in "The Little White Bird", Barrie's prior story about Peter's early adventures. Most of these differences are established in the first book in the series. The following table identifies distinct differences between the works of Barry and Pearson, and those of Barrie. (P&SC="Peter and the Starcatchers", P&ST="Peter and the Shadow Thieves", P&SR="Peter and the Secret of Rundoon", LWB="The Little White Bird", P&W="Peter and Wendy".)


External links

* [ Official website]

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