The Bridge to Never Land (Starcatchers) by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. 2011. 448 pp.
One afternoon, Aiden and Sarah Cooper find a yellowed envelop in a hidden compartment of a desk. They decipher a cryptic message that leads Sarah to revisit one of her favorite book series, Peter and the Starcatchers. The authors entwine the Starcatchers lore into a modern setting and introduce the two new characters that must follow the clues to become the very heroes they worship.
The clues lead Aiden and Sara from their home in America to London (on a family vacation, of course) where they search for the locations from the earlier books. The segments of the kids in London reminded me of the Da Vinci Code and National Treasure. The family returns to America and Sarah attempts to hide the Starstuff but run into trouble. They contact one of the last members of the Astor family to see if he can offer any help and they unweave a tale that includes Albert Einstein and a visit with a beloved Magic Kingdom attraction.
As can be expected, time is spent on Never Land with the Mollusks, Captain Hook and Peter Pan. It is an exciting interlude that results with Peter visiting the Magic Kingdom to battle an immaterial villain from the series’ past. The Bridge is great device that allows Never Land to exist yet remain hidden from modern eyes. Barry and Pearson have always added humor to the books, but it seems like their is a lot more levity in this title. It might be because the story is more modern or because the authors felt like they had more freedom with the newer characters.
I am not a fan of Pearson’s Kingdom Keeper series—I found the Disney-related compromises that were taken for the story arc disconcerting and inaccurate. In Bridge, it was fairly simple to figure out that the trio was heading to the Magic Kingdom, so I suffered some trepidation about how Barry and Pearson were going to integrate the theme park into the story. Fortunately, they handled it wonderfully and the final act was exciting, page-turning and believable.
The Starcatchers series is well worth the time spent with all five books. There isn’t a weak book in the series and each title expands the Peter Pan mythos in credible directions. I urge you to pick up Peter and the Starcatchers and start the journey. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, the Starcatchers titles are geared toward the young teen audience, but readers of all ages will enjoy their trips to Never Land. From the ending, I can assume that there will be a sixth title in the series coming soon. And I can’t wait to get back to Never Land.
Disney Publishing Worldwide provided a review copy.