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 three sequels, also set before the famous adventure with Peter and Wendy: Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006), Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007), and Peter and the Sword of Mercy (2009). A series of Never Land chapter books for younger readers is based on the novels. In 2005, Disney hired Jay Wolpert to adapt the book to film, reportedly to use 3D animation. A play with music adaptation of the book debuted in winter 2009 at La Jolla Playhouse, as part of an arrangement with Disney Theatrical.
In an evocative and fast-paced adventure on the high seas and on a faraway island, an orphan boy named Peter and his pretty, mysterious new friend, Molly, overcome bands of pirates and thieves in their quest to keep a fantastical secret safe and save the world from evil. The story precedes J.M. Barrie's beloved Peter Pan. Peter and the Starcatchers is brimming with richly developed characters, from the scary but somehow familiar Black "Stache" Moustache and ferocious Mister Grin to the sweet but sophisticated Molly and fearless Peter. Molly and Peter take a voyage with Alf, James, Thomas, Prentiss, Tubby Ted, Slank and Little Richard from a filthy, crime-ridden port in Old England across the turbulent sea. Aboard the Never Land is a trunk that holds the "greatest treasure on earth" - but is it gold, jewels, or something far more mysterious and dangerous? In this excting story, the trunk is moved from place to place. Once in a dry, guarded cabin, next in a ship full of greedy pirates. And then out in the open sea. Roiling Waves and raging storms; pirate treachery provide the backdrop for battles at sea. A wonderful series of events land the characters on Mollusk Island - where the action heats up. This fantasy tale is full of mystical and magical moments and treasures.
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 protagonist who fantasizes about a place called Never Land. Described as orange-haired and blue-eyed, he is approximately twelve to fourteen years old, though he lies about his age. 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. Even though he does not learn that his surname is "Pan" (but does in "Peter and the Secret of Rundoon") in this novel, this is the beginning of the story of Peter Pan.
- Molly Aster - Molly is the daughter of the new ambassador to Rundoon, the famous Starcatcher Leonard Aster. Molly is an independent, strong-minded, twelve to 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, thinking she's saying "Hello". Leonard Aster - Leonard is Molly's father, the new ambassador to Rundoon and a famous Starcatcher. Even with his great skills, he falls for a switch between the real treasure and a fake. In the ending of the novel, Leonard uses the "treasure" to turn a bird into a beautiful fairy and presents it to Peter, thus introducing the role of Tinker Bell. He also gives Peter a gold Starcatcher locket. Ammm - Ammm is a hardworking Porpoise who sends messages to and fro Molly and her father using Porpoise language. He is also a great navigator and occasionally helps Peter and Molly throughout the story.
- 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. Peter is leader to James, Thomas, Prentiss, and Tubby Ted. Tubby Ted so nicknamed because he is always ready to eat (literally).
- Black "Stache" Moustache - 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.
- Little Richard - Little Richard is a short, powerful giant who worked for the Never Land before becoming Slank's sidekick. Even though he can take Slank easily, Richard obeys his every command and is kicked around like a slave.
- Slank - William 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.
- Mrs. Bumbrake - Mrs. Bumbrake is Molly's governess. She is a neat, plump woman and boards the Never Land with Molly. Mrs. Bumbrakes is captured by Stache's band of pirates but later on rescued by Leonard. She is very fond of Slank.
- 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.
- Mack - Mack is Alf's partner in the beginning of the novel. His part is very short and consists of only one chapter.
- 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 nearly killed, but Peter healed him with a bit of starstuff. In the end, he lets Peter and his mates stay on the island when they refuse to go home.
- Teacher - Teacher is a strikingly beautiful, blonde mermaid and the leader of a group of them. Before the group met Peter, they wanted to keep the trunk to themselves. Teacher can communicate with Peter through thoughts and helps him along the way. She is very jealous of Molly, as is Molly of her. Both are very fond of Peter, especially after he saved their lives.
Differences from the works of BarrieEdit
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.
|Peter and the Starcathers||J.M. Barrie's works|
|Peter is an orphan from St. Norbert's Home for Wayward Boys. He is shipwrecked on the island of Neverland. (P&SC) He is later revealed to be the son of a Mr. Pan, who is a Watcher, as it states in 'The Peter and the secret of Rundoon, a mechanism sent by some powerful to help humankind and locate for starstuff.||Peter flies away when he is a baby and has adventures in Kensington Gardens. He flies to Neverland after being "abandoned" by his mother. (LWB and P&W) (He flew away permanently because, when he returned after his original flight, the window was barred and his mother had had another baby...implying, to Peter, that she no longer wanted him.)|
|Peter is approximately twelve to fourteen years old. He wears rags. He has red hair that often falls into his face.||Peter still has all his baby teeth. (But, to Wendy, he seems to be a boy of her age.)|
|Peter feels a great sense of responsibility for his friends. He is also attracted to girls, particularly Molly and the mermaid Teacher. He often enjoys teasing the pirates, especially Black Stache, or captain Hook by throwing fruit at him||Peter is very careless, spending his time on adventures and playing, and he never feels guilty for anything. He never notices that he is adored by Wendy Darling, Tiger Lily, Tinker Bell, and the mermaids, thinking of girls (if at all) as mother figures.|
|Peter's original companions are from St. Norbert's Orphanage and were shipwrecked on Neverland. (P&SC) They leave for England after stating that "they are going to be men". (P&SR) The Lost Boys of Barry and Pearson's story are rescued from slavery in Rundoon.||The Lost Boys were children who fell out of their carriages (prams) in Kensington Gardens, but not claimed within seven days.|
|Black Stache is described as greasy and dirty, with a pock-marked face, black eyes and terrible breath, and a long stringy mustache and hair. His left hand is cut off by Peter in self-defense.||Captain Hook is a tidy and dandified gentleman, with bright blue eyes, shiny dark curls, and a swarthy complexion. He copies the clothing of King Charles II, is somewhat musical, a magnificent storyteller, and loves sweet music and flowers. His right hand is cut off by Peter during a duel, and then fed to crocodile who also swallowed a ticking clock.|
|A small green bird is immersed in a bag of starstuff, mutating into a fairy the crew names Tinker Bell.||Tinker Bell, like all other fairies, was born either from the shattered laugh of the first baby, or from the first laugh of a new baby.|
|Starstuff, a greenish powder found from stars, has a different effect on all creatures. For instance, when a human is exposed to it, it may give him/her the ability to fly. When a female fish is exposed to it she may become a mermaid. When a horse is exposed to it, it may become a centaur. Or when a bird is exposed to it, it may become a pixie, which is how Tinker Bell came into being. It can cause extreme greed, contributes to the genius of various artists, and has wonderful healing properties. Allows people to fly in limited amounts.||Implicitly produced by fairies. Allows people to fly.|
|Peter gained permanent flying ability by over-exposure to starstuff.||Peter – like all infants – was part bird, which allowed him to fly away. Later, the fairies helped him fly. (LWB) For others to fly, they must have access to fairy dust.|
|Peter was mutated by over-exposure to starstuff. (P&SC) A starstuff leak in the water of Mullusk Island causing the tribe, boys, pirates, and everything on the island to not age as much as one day as long as they bath in it each day.||Peter escaped from growing up at the age of seven days. (LWB) He simply refused to grow up.|
|Shadows are animate extensions of one's soul reflecting the owner's feelings, and without them humans are rendered zombie-like and unable to fly.||Peter's shadow is like a piece of laundry after its removed from him, and he flies to Neverland and back without it. However, he does seem to feel a bit lost/forlorn without it, and he definitely wants it back.|
|Neverland is a physical island that can be reached by ship. Starstuff is responsible for all the strange creatures and conflicts in Neverland.||Neverland is a metaphor for a child's make-believe and dreams, which also shape the island and give it its magic. It can become real, an amalgamation of fantasy, for those that are gay [joyful], innocent and heartless, or when the island is "looking for them."|
|The mermaids are fish mutated by starstuff into semi-human form. They do not speak English or any other kind of spoken language.||The mermaids are the regular mythological creatures, the original inhabitants of their lagoon. They are more like human women, lazily combing their hair in the sun and playing ball games with bubbles.|
|The Mollusk Tribe, resembling islanders of the Pacific or East Indies, with marine names (e.g. Fighting Prawn).||The Piccaninny Tribe, resembling American Indians, with corresponding names (e.g. Great Big Little Panther).|
|14-year-old George learns of Neverland and shadows from his friend Molly.||Mister Darling ridicules the idea of a lost shadow until he is shown Peter's.|
|The Jolly Roger is obtained in P&SC and then lost while the pirates camp on the island. Then in P&SM Hook's and Fighting Prawn's men repair the large hole in the ship, and Hook renames it the Jolly Roger.||The ship is named Jolly Roger and can be cast off at Hook's command.|
|The Crocodile is male and named Mr. Grin.||The Crocodile is female and has no name. "When they have passed, comes the last figure of all, a gigantic crocodile. We shall see for whom she is looking presently."|