Saturday, April 26, 2014

Another Peter Pan Adventure

Peter and the Shadow Thieves
by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy 
*Sequel to Peter and the Starcatchers

"Peter leaves the relative safety of Mollusk Island-along with his trusted companion, Tinker Bell-for the cold, damp, dangerous, streets of London. On a difficult journey across the sea, he and Tink discover the mysterious and deadly Lord Ombra, who is intent on recovering the missing starstuff-celestial dust that contains unimaginable powers. In London, Peter attempts to track down the indomitable Molly, hoping that together they can combat Ombra's determined forces.

"But London is not Mollusk Island; Peter is not the boy he used to be; and Lord Ombra-the Shadow Master-is unlike anything Peter, or the world, has ever seen."

Another adventure awaits! The action in this novel was less intense than the first one, and I didn't like it as much, perhaps because it took place in dirty, foggy London. The plot seemed more rushed and somehow less fluid. Peter also annoyed me at times because it seemed like as soon as he came to London and met up with Molly, he became clueless and had to ask her everything. But he made up for it at the end. Molly also bothered me at times, but not as much because she had a better reason for acting like that. I also had an unanswered question at the end about the starstuff and its affects on a certain character, and it is not cleared up in the third and final book.

However, there is still a lot of action and slightly more character development in Peter, although there could have been even more. I liked the circle ending, and the main antagonist is definitely creepy and creative. I enjoyed how Barry and Pearson continued adding and weaving elements of the original story to their own version. That made it even more fun to read.

I give this book a 3.5 and recommend it for ages 9 and up because of the creepy evil-shadow character.

What I learned: Sometimes one must put and fight for something greater even than family bonds.

Ridley Pearson's website:
Dave Barry's website:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oh, Pip

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic

"In an overgrown churchyard, a grizzled convict springs upon an orphan boy named Pip. The convict terrifies Pip and threatens to kill him unless the boy helps further his escape. Later, Pip finds himself in a ruined garden where he meets the embittered and crazy Miss Havisham and her foster child, Estella, with whom he instantly falls in love.

"After a secret benefactor gives him a fortune, Pip moves to London, where he cultivates great expectations for a life that would allow him to discard his impoverished beginnings and socialize with members of the idle upper class. As Pip struggles to become a gentleman, he slowly learns the truth about himself and his illusions, and is tormented endlessly by the beautiful Estella."

I feel kind-of ambivalent towards this Dickens novel. I liked it okay, but it wasn't my favorite. I liked Our Mutual Friend and Bleak House by him much better; possibly because my version of Bleak House had illustrations and the ending of Great Expectations was more mournful than the endings of those other novels. I was also annoyed with the main character, Pip, at times, who seemed bratty and jerkish, but it helped that the prospective was from his present self looking back, so that he saw these faults in himself.

True to Dicken's form, the action gets quite exciting in the last third of the book. So if you can hang on until then, there is some great action and plot twists that will surprise and delight you (at least they did to me). The main character was also funny at times, and Dickens always has several humorous depictions of his characters. The main points of the novel were true, and I often felt like I was learning along with misled little Pip.

Although it's long and sometimes dull, I found this novel worth reading, and Dickens does reward you in the last hundred pages or so. I will not soon get these characters out of my mind (especially good old Joe!).

I give Great Expectations a 3.75 and recommend it for 17 year olds and up because of the eloquent language and depth of the material.

What I learned: What it took to be a gentleman in London in the 19th century and how people were treated if they were viewed as such. A person's worth isn't in their social standing or lack thereof.

One of my favorite quotes: "I'll tell you...what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul..."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

You thought You Knew the Story of Peter Pan...

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy 
*First novel of a trilogy/quartet

"In an evocative and fast-paced adventure on the high seas and on a faraway island, an orphan boy named Peter and his 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.

"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?

"Roiling waves and raging storms; skullduggery and pirate treachery provide the backdrop for battles at sea. Bone-crushing breakers eventually land our characters on Mollusk Island-where the action really heats up."

If you haven't read this novel yet, or even if you have, please, please pick it up! I don't care if you are nine years old or forty-five; it is a book worth reading. This tale has everything a good story should have: suspense, convincing/conniving evil characters, life-like protagonists, magic, and plenty of plot twists. It even has beautiful illustrations. It is super easy to read (it's meant for a younger audience, after all), and took me two days to read it this second time.

I love that this story is basically the back-story of Peter Pan's life and that it explains how he got to Never Land, why he can fly, and all of that crucial, mysterious information that the original story just doesn't clear up completely. And even though it is meant for a younger audience, I still enjoyed this story. It had plenty of good, innocent humor and enough action to keep me on my toes, but then again, I might still be a kid at heart.

The only major qualm I have about this book is that my copy had a lot of little errors, like misplaced quotes, missing words, and the like. I'm sure not every copy is like that, but it did annoy me slightly. I'm reading the sequel now, and it doesn't have any mistakes.

I also wish that the narrator could have given us more insights into Peter's mind, since he is the main character, but I still felt like I knew him. The book does jump around from different characters quite frequently (at the end of every chapter), so that could be a bit overwhelming. But it is still a masterfully written novel, which makes sense, since its authors are the famous Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (who's written the Kingdom Keepers series).

I give this book a 3.5 and recommend it for ages 8 and up.

What I learned: When people use something powerful with good motives, they usually end up using it for evil. Plenty of pirate/ship words, including: aft, dory, yardarm. Oh, and pirates often go around ships barefoot.

Dave Barry's website:
Ridley Pearson's website:

 So, who's going to pick this book up now? Or if you have already read it, what did you think?