Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'd been taking these books out on audio from the library. But I enjoyed them so much, I went ahead and purchased this one. They're fun, entertaining, and the narration is excellent.
This is the third book about the origin of Peter Pan, which posits that he got his ability to fly from a long exposure to "star stuff," a glittery powder that can bring about all kinds of miracles. In this, he's kidnapped to Rundoon, where the bad guys (the Others; why they call themselves that is beyond me) have a base. There, he learns more about the mysterious forces opposing the Starcatchers, finds out who his parents were and why he wound up in an orphanage, and sails a flying ship. By the end of the story, it feels like a logical progression into the events of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan.
The book doesn't tie everything up neatly. There are still questions remaining. What happened to Peter's parents is implied, but there's a lot of room to further explore. We learn what star stuff is and why it keeps falling from the sky. We learn where the creepy shadow creatures like Lord Ombre come from, and what their purpose is. Peter deals with the ones in Rundoon, but there are lots more of them to contend with, all over the world. There are aspects of the Starcatchers that deserve further exploration, too.
As in previous installments, the pacing is quick. It takes place over a period of weeks, but it never feels like that much time has passed. The narrative follows several threads, and switches over to the most exciting ones when the others sag. There is no good time to put the book down. The urge to know what happens next is strong with this book.
There's also a healthy dose of humor. Some of it is the physical or repetitive humor that would entertain the book's intended audience, but there are also plenty of wry comments that might make a grownup reader laugh. The series is clearly written to be read aloud by parents, who'll enjoy it just as much as their children.
Despite the lingering questions, I'm not sure if I want to read the next book. The description implies it's a rewriting of Barrie's story, and I feel like the series' strength has been in how easily it's fit with the original work.
We shall see.
As I mentioned, I read this on audio, narrated by Jim Dale. He has a delightful voice, well-suited to reading bedtime stories to kids. I don't know how much he plans in advance, but he keeps the voices unique enough that one can always tell who's speaking. Two characters who sound similar are never in the same scene together, which helped a lot with keeping them straight.
I highly recommend the audio edition of this book, as well as anything else Jim Dale narrates.
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