I just finished reading this book. I've read a good deal of Dave Barry, and hadn't caught the memo that he's writing fiction. I found another book of his on the shelf that I didn't buy, but will eventually.
I thought this book was excellent. I've liked Peter Pan stories for a long time, and love the movies based on them -- especially the latest Peter Pan live action, and Hook.
This book deviates a bit from the original stories (because, we wouldn't have a pre-Neverland Peter if he's carried off by Tink right away). Instead, he is the leader of a group of orphans being sent as servants to a barbaric King. He doesn't know his age, but as the leader, he is always one year older than the oldest boy in the orphanage. The five boys are put aboard the Neverland, a run down ship also carrying Molly, a young girl with a secret. She can talk to Porpoises for one thing. And she seems to be in the possession of a mysterious trunk that is heavily guarded, and when touched, shimmers and sounds like tiny bells tinkling.
Eventually, as a result of Peter's snooping, he is let in on the secret. Bits of stars that fall from heaven have magical powers. Their dust can make people fly, and turn ordinary beings into magical ones. She and her family are part of a secret society to keep the starstuff from falling into the wrong hands. Fast on their tail is a pirate ship, with none other than the Fierce Captain Stash. He has heard that the Neverland is carrying the greatest treasure in the world. And the Captain of the Neverland seems to have his own secrets.
After a battle on the high seas in a storm, the trunk, orphans, starcatchers, shipmates, and pirates are marooned on an island populated with 'savages'-the Mollusk Tribe. As all involved chase around after the trunk, some hints of the Pan stories yet to come are given.
My favorite part of the book is when the trunk drifts into a blue lagoon. It is leaking starstuff into the water, transforming the ordinary fish into Mermaids.
I didn't know what to expect, but it was worth the money I spent for the hardcover. I assumed that a book by Dave Barry would be parody, or at least comedy, but it is legitimate storytelling. If you've read any of Barry's books and newspaper columns, there is some dialogue that you could bet he wrote. I don't know the other author at all, so I can't make any comparisons there. A good, if fast, read -- geared for kids, and produced by Disney -- so watch out for the movie to be out in theaters sometime soon. I hope they'll be smart and get the kid that played Peter in the live action version. I suppose he'll be too old, but it would be great for continuity.