Peter and the Starcatchers

Peter and the Starcatchers is a children's novel that was published by Hyperion Books, a subsidiary of Disney, in 2004. Written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and illustrated by Greg Call, the book is a reinterpretation of the character Peter Pan, who first appeared in J. M. Barrie's novel Peter and Wendy. Although frequently reported to be a prequel to Barrie's novel, it is in fact a reimagining and reboot of Peter Pan's world, with very different character histories and internal world-building.

Peter and the Starcatchers
Peter Starcatchers.gif
First edition
AuthorDave Barry
Ridley Pearson
IllustratorGreg Call
PublisherHyperion Books for Children
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages452 (hardcover edition)
LC ClassPZ7.B278 Pe 2004
Followed byPeter and the Shadow Thieves 

The book is followed by four sequels: Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006), Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007), Peter and the Sword of Mercy (2009), and The Bridge to Neverland (2011). 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.[1]

A play with music adaptation of the book debuted in winter 2009 at La Jolla Playhouse, as part of an arrangement with Disney Theatrical.[2] It was re-staged Off-Broadway in 2011 and opened on Broadway April 15, 2012, at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

On May 17, 2012 Walt Disney Pictures announced that a film version of the book would be written by Jesse Wigutow.[1] On August 20, 2012, The Hunger Games (movie) director Gary Ross agreed to direct the movie. Filming was expected to begin in 2013.[3]

Plot summaryEdit

In 19th century London, an orphaned boy named Peter and fellow orphans James, Thomas, Prentiss, and Tubby Ted are shipped out on the decrepit Never Land, under the command of First Mate Slank and the extremely incompetent Captain Cyrus Pembridge. A mysterious trunk is on board as well, identical to another that had been escorted by the Royal Guard onto Her Majesty's Wasp, another ship in harbor. Meanwhile, feared pirate Black Stache, captain of the Sea Devil hears of the trunk on the Wasp containing the greatest treasure of all time, and plots to capture it.

While the Sea Devil dumps much of its weight and water in order to lighten the ship enough to run down The Wasp, Peter and the orphans attempt to adapt to their measly hold and Peter meets Molly Aster, a mysterious passenger of his own age. While scavenging for food one night, Peter finds himself in the hold where the trunk is guarded and is acquainted with a flying rat. Molly rescues him from crew members on their way to check out the commotion caused, and stories of the flying rat begin to travel through the ship, prompting Peter and Alf, a member of the crew, to wonder about the hold's contents.

The Sea Devil manages to run down and board The Wasp, and Leonard Aster, Molly's father and a safekeeper of the trunk, fruitlessly attempts and fails to escape with the trunk in question. As The Wasp's crew is forced to surrender, Black Stache opens the trunk only to find sand, and both he and Aster realize that a switch had been made at port and the actual treasure is on the Never Land. Aster jumps overboard and escapes with his dolphin allies, who send a dolphin, Ammm, to relay to Molly that Black Stache was on his way. Molly later stops Peter and Alf from carrying out a plan to discover the contents of the trunk, and confides to Peter about the contents of the trunk: Starstuff, dust of extraordinary power that had fallen from the heavens, which had temporarily made the rat fly. Molly's family is revealed to be members of a secret society known as the Starcatchers, who located the Starstuff when it fell from the heavens and kept it out of the wrong hands. The contents of this particular trunk were the result of the largest fall in history, which had been located by a rival group, the Others, before the Starcatchers could acquire it. Molly enlists Peter to assist in throwing the trunk overboard before Black Stache arrived.

Black Stache and his men rechristen the Wasp the Jolly Roger and race against a monster storm to intercept the Never Land and acquire the treasure. Attempting to dispose of the trunk with Molly, Peter is thrown overboard by Slank right before Black Stache and his men arrive and locate the trunk on the dock just as the storm hits. Having come into contact with Starstuff from the trunk, Peter manages to fly back and hurl the trunk overboard, prompting Black Stache to quickly leave and take Slank, sailor Little Richard, and Molly's governess prisoner. Molly jumps overboard to rescue Peter as his Starstuff wears off as Alf and the orphans escape the Never Land as the storm and nearby reef obliterate it. Both parties and the trunk wash up on a nearby island, with the Jolly Roger close behind.

Alf, James, Prentiss, Thomas, Tubby Ted, and Peter are soon captured by the local natives, while Black Stache and a large posse search the island for the trunk, leaving the ship virtually unguarded while Slank and Little Richard break out of the Jolly Roger, subdue the remaining pirates, and search for the trunk. The natives, known as the Mollusks and led by Fighting Prawn, decide to feed the group to Mister Grin, an abnormally large crocodile who is kept captive in an enclosure, as is their policy when dealing with foreigners. Molly rescues them with some reserve starstuff, enabling the group and Mister Grin to fly out of the enclosure, causing mass panic among the Mollusks and pirate posse. The trunk is eventually found by Slank and Little Richard, who battle Mermaids (lagoon fish who came into contact with starstuff from the leaky trunk), trick the pirates, and knock Peter out, who is shortly rescued by the mermaids for healing one of their own from a wound inflicted by Slank.

With help from Ammm, the group assaults Slank and Little Richard and nearly succeeds in overpowering both of them before Slank restrains Molly and reveals that he is in league with the Others, who are rivals of the Starcatchers and want the Starstuff for their own purposes. He confirms that a switch had been made in port and that the trunk of Starstuff was originally intended for the Wasp, and that both ships had been headed to Rundoon, where the starstuff was to be delivered to the corrupt King Zarboff III and the boys as palace servants. He and Little Richard take Molly hostage on their longboat in order to escape with the trunk, but Peter rescues Molly. It is then revealed that Peter had earlier lifted the box of Starstuff out of the trunk. He and Molly leave Slank and Little Richard to drift out to sea.

Aster and a group of Starcatchers soon arrive on the Island, accompanied by ships of the British Navy, and Aster deduces that Peter should have died when lifting the box of Starstuff, but had an extraordinarily high tolerance to Starstuff and instantly stopped aging forever while permanently retaining the ability to fly. The Mollusks and the pirates converge on the group, and a fight ensures, wherein Fighting Prawn is mortally wounded and Peter manages to sever Black Stache's hand, which is eaten by Mister Grin. As the pirates flee to another part of the island, Peter uses the starstuff in Aster's locket to save Fighting Prawn, who spares the group, allows Molly, Aster, Alf, and the Starcatchers to leave the island with the now-secured box of Starstuff, and lets Peter, James, Thomas, Prentiss, and Tubby Ted stay on the island, as Peter feels that he wouldn't be able to fit in with society. As he and Molly bid farewell to one another, Aster uses starstuff to turn a local bird into a fairy, Tinker Bell, to watch over Peter. Peter promises to come to London in the near future to visit, and he and the boys begin to settle on the island. The story ends with Peter discovering a washed-up plank with the printed name of the Never Land, which he decides to nickname the island (although the sequels still refer to it by its given name, Mollusk Island).

Differences from the works of BarrieEdit

Although Peter and the Starcatchers and its follow-ups are sometimes advertised as "prequels" to Peter and Wendy, the series is in fact a complete continuity reboot, which "borrows" Peter and other characters to create a self-sufficient universe. There are a number of differences between the Starcatchers series and the original novel, particularly contradicting the material in The Little White Bird, itself not consistent with Barrie's other Peter Pan works. The treatment of magic is presented very differently from anything Barrie ever wrote. The series eschews the notion that there is an age limit on the use of magic, or that certain beings can be saved from death by sympathetic gestures and wishes. Most of these differences are established in the first book in the series.

Film adaptationEdit

On May 17, 2012, it was announced by Walt Disney Pictures that a motion picture of the novel will be made. It was also reported that Jesse Wigutow will write the script for the film. On August 20, 2012, Gary Ross, the director of The Hunger Games, signed on to direct the film, with filming expected to start in 2013.[citation needed] As of 2021, nothing else is known to have taken place.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Disney moves forward on Peter and the Starcatchers". Movie News. May 17, 2012. Archived from the original on February 16, 2007.
  2. ^ Jones, Kenneth (2008-07-28). "Can He Fly? Disney and La Jolla Will Test Wings of Starcatchers — a Peter Pan Prequel". Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2008-07-29.
  3. ^ Foreman, Liza (August 21, 2012). "'Hunger Games' director signs with Disney". The Washington Post.
  4. ^ Thomlison, Adam. "Q&A". TV Media. Retrieved September 21, 2015.

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