Second in the Peter and the Starcatchers children’s fantasy-adventure series about a boy who will never grow up and can fly.
Peter has gotten just a bit too cocky on Never Land, teasing Captain Hook and the pirates when he’s the only one who can fly. He’s not setting a very good example as a leader and because of it, James gets caught by Hook and his crew. Rescuing James leaves the Mollusk peoples’ compound unguarded which enables Lord Ombra to steal away Fighting Prawn’s daughter, Shining Pearl.
Two good things do come of this, however, Peter has learned that Lord Ombra does something to peoples’ shadows and Lord Aster and his daughter, Molly, are in trouble. Peter must follow the ship back to London.
And so Peter’s adventures begin. Again. With an angry Tink’s help, Peter makes it to London by stowing away on Le Fantome with yet more adventures upon arrival. Canaries. Jail and a cage. A prison escape. Rescue. A talking bear. Sneaking into the Tower. Saving the day.
And don’t think that Peter, Molly, and Tinker Bell are the only ones having all the fun! James, Thomas, Prentiss, and Tubby Ted are in for their own escapades between hide-outs and traps even as they eventually foil Captain Hook…nyah-ah-ahh…
Peter is the obvious hero with a great deal of help from Tinker Bell…even if she is incredibly pissed off at him. Molly Aster is a strong supporting character even after they have to admit Molly’s childhood friend, George Darling, from across the square into their plans when Molly’s mother, Lady Louise Aster, is kidnapped. Lord Aster appears briefly in the beginning with a strong end while Fighting Prawn and the Mollusk people and Teacher play their part at the beginning of the story.
The Lost Boys, James, Prentiss, Thomas, and Tubby Ted break up the main adventure with their own perils while the terrified antics of Captain Hook (the former Captain Black Stache), Smee, and the rest of the stranded pirate crew provide a striking resemblance to Dustin Hoffman and company from the movie Hook—I can just hear Hoffman’s Hook crying out for Smee!
Slank is back from Peter and the Starcatchers. Seems he had to eat his friend Little Richard to survive being marooned at sea! This is his last chance to make up for losing the starstuff in the first place. Captain Nerezza commands Le Fantome and he and his crew have been following that nutcase’s delusional directions about that, surely, non-existent island for months! Then there’s Lord Ombra. He’s not a man, he’s Other in every sense of the word and a chill follows his hooded and cloaked shape everywhere he goes. Ah, but he only goes anywhere at night when the light can be directed and the shadows are strongest.
A truly fantastical adventure of escapes and rescues flying across the ocean and amongst the chimney pots of London. Chim-chim-cherree anyone? Childhood fantasies of playing pirate, creating a hide-out, and general running amuckness await any reader young or old. Adults will enjoy the Peter Pan references while both will enjoy the thrill of adventure.
Heck, mom and dad might want to turn it into a geography and historical lesson with Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge! Use the excitement generated by Barry and Pearson to really sink the message in.
Quibbles: I should think both Barry and Pearson would know better than to refer to a Lord Aster and then call his wife, Mrs. Aster. I’m rather surprised the wolves didn’t do a better job of sniffing out the ambushers. I also kept expecting Tink to talk to the ravens???
For the most part, this is really, really well-written except for the extremely occasional slips into that patronizing tone when adults talk down to children. If you like Peter Pan, you’ll love Peter and the Starcatchers.
The cover seems straight from Peter Pan as Peter helps a nightgown-clad Molly out into a moonlit sky through the tall, open casement window, white sheers swaying with the breeze, just as Lord Ombra grabs for her hand. Lovely effective use of a blue-and-green hologram ink for Tink’s trail swirling up from the floor and around Molly and Peter and then switching to the goldleaf hologram effect for the linework and text for the title and authors’ names.
As for the title, Barry and Pearson do refer, at the end, to more than one shadow thief, but almost the entire story surrounds just one and I think it would have been more appropriate to title it Peter and the Shadow Thief.