Sunday, August 10, 2008

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

For the last (finally!) installment from Weekly Geeks a few weeks ago, here are the answers to your questions regarding Peter and the Starcatchers. But first, a quick story. At the Texas Library Association conference in April, I had the pleasure to hear Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson speak. I learned that the idea for this book came about when one of the authors (I can't remember which now...) was reading the Disney picture book version of Peter Pan to his daughter, and his daughter asked him how Peter learned to fly. This is his answer to that question. As you may know (and this will answer Dewey's question, "Is this the same Dave Barry that is the humor writer?"), Dave Barry is a humor columnist and book author, while Ridley Pearson writes thrillers. Whichever author it was had a dilemma in that he didn't know how to write this type of book, and he sought the help of his friend, the other author. (The authors, by the way, have played in a band which consists of such other authors as Stephen King and, if I remember correctly, Amy Tan.)

1. Was, Peter and the Starcatchers, worthwhile or would it have been better to leave the world of Peter Pan, alone?

The book was fun, and I think it is worthwhile, if you take it for the whimsy that it is.

2. Did you like what the authors did with the Peter Pan story in Peter and the Starcatchers?

In some ways yes, and in some ways no. It was kind of fun to hear a story of how Peter learned to fly and how Never Land came to be. But, and it's been years since I read the original, if I remember correctly, Barrie has part of a backstory in the original book about how Peter ended up on Never Land, and it's sort of annoying that this part of the story was ignored. The book by Barry and Pearson feels much more like an adaptation of the Disney Peter Pan story than the original novel by Barrie.

3. I am curious what an adult's take on Peter and the Starcatchers is?

I love children's and young adult books as much, in many cases, as I do adult books, so I'm not sure I'm the best person to answer this one! I found the book to be almost as fun as some of the other books directed toward the same audience (The Lightning Thief, for example), but there were some things that annoyed me about it. Some of the jokes were obvious or just plain dumb. And the typos (which I hear were fixed in later editions) were almost unbearable. Seriously, this book had the worst copy editing of any book I have ever read (and I am not exaggerating - even worse than unproofed ARC copies of books I've read). That was very distracting, and it might not have bothered a child as much as it did me.

4. As Dave Barry is a humor writer, is Peter and the Starcatchers a humor book?

Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson had an interesting approach to this book. Instead of alternating chapters, as is often the case in books written by two authors, each author wrote specific character portions. As such, Barry wrote the bits for the funnier characters, while Pearson wrote the bits for the more evil characters. This worked pretty well, as they each proofed each other's sections and collaborated a good deal. The book, as a whole, is not a humor book (there are, in fact, some quite dark parts), but Barry's humor does show up a bit in certain scenes.

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