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“That’s the thing: I never actually saw him. He was more like a cape with a black ghost inside. And the way he moved . . . it gave me the frights, I don’t mind telling you,” Slighty. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
Peter and the Secret of Rundoon
by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Peter’s home is Never Land island, but his Lost Boys are starting to grow up and lose interest in island life. Before Peter can worry too much about what this means, the island is besieged by a tribe of warriors called Scorpions. With Peter wounded and the Mollusk’s defeated by the Scorpions, no one is prepared when Lord Ombra returns to the island, kidnapping Peter and his orphan friends.
Whisked away to Rundoon, the boys wonder what Lord Ombra wants from them. Peter isn’t sure if he even can do what Lord Ombra wants, but with his friends’ lives at stake, he feels he has no choice. Unbeknownst to him, Molly and her father are on their way to help. But will their appearance really be the dramatic rescue they’re hoping for? Or will their appearance actually bring about the end of the world, of light, and of the entire universe?
The third installment continues to jump from perspective to perspective, showing what’s happening from Never Land to Rundoon and places in between. However, unlike the previous books in the series, there is no main storyline to hook readers’ interest. Without one larger perspective shaping the narrative, it may be difficult for readers to become emotionally engaged in the plot.
While there is plenty of action, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon, unfortunately, lacks the suspense of the previous installments. On top of this, not all the characters behave in a way that is consistent with their personalities in previous books. For instance, Smee becomes Acting Captain Smee after Captain Hook goes missing. Smee, who in previous books could barely string a sentence together or walk three feet without tripping, suddenly becomes well-spoken in his interactions with Shining Pearl, the Mollusk chief’s daughter.
One aspect parents might want to take note of is that this book continues and expands the theme of children disobeying and being praised for their disobedience. Peter disobeys Fighting Prawn and almost dies from an arrow wound; yet Fighting Prawn says, “you did well, disobeying me.” Continuing from the end of the previous book, Molly consistently throws fits, disobeys her father, and then is praised for disobeying him. These events are painted as though the children knew better, and it is unrealistic that adults would praise the children for their disobedience when it puts them and others in mortal danger.
Casual readers of this series may not want to pick up the next book, but devoted fans of the Peter and the Starcatchers series will pick up the next book, Peter and the Sword of Mercy, with the hopes that it revitalizes the suspense and character development of the first two books, rather than following in the emotionally lackluster footsteps of this one.
- Molly kisses Peter goodbye. “And then Molly kissed him on the lips. It was the first time either of them had ever kissed anybody on the lips, and it was a kiss they would both carry in their minds for the rest of their lives.”
- A tribe of warriors called Scorpions has scars “caused by the tentacles of a particularly nasty type of jellyfish, the poison of which inflicted agonizing pain. . . its toxic tentacles searing his flesh like fire. Some men crumpled immediately to the ground, screaming; others passed out.”
- Peter is shot by a poison arrow. “Peter felt it . . . a sharp pain like a bee sting . . . His fear turned to relief when he saw that the arrow had merely grazed him . . . Peter grunted as the muscles in his right leg suddenly contracted in violent cramps.”
- The Scorpions attack the Mollusks. “Scorpion marksmen returned fire, sending dozens of poison-tipped arrows hissing toward the tops of the palm trees. A cream, then another, then still more—and Mollusk warriors began to fall from their perches.” The battle is described over five pages.
- Ombra takes control of James and threatens him, in order to force Peter to obey. “‘You know I can make them suffer.’ As he spoke, Ombra/James raised his right hand, dug his fingernails viciously into his own cheek, and raked his face. Parallel trails of blood began to ooze from the wounds.”
- While escaping from the Scorpions, a ship fires small iron balls from their cannon. It “sent a lethal hail flying across the water. The first three canoes stopped instantly as the paddlers fell backward, most of them wounded, some of them screaming.”
- Tink helps in a sword fight by providing a bright flash of light. “Leonard and Bakari drew their own swords, and in a moment the stone corridor rang with the clash of steel on steel, swords flashing . . . The two guards screamed, covering their eyes—too late, as they were temporarily blinded. . . Leonard opened his eyes and stepped quickly between the helpless guards . . . clubbing them both unconscious.”
- Men try to stop Molly and George from stealing a camel. “He grabbed Molly’s leg, jerking it down and back. Molly screamed in pain. George lashed out and kicked the man’s head; he grunted and let go.”
- A guard clouts Ted. “A clout on the ear silenced Ted.”
- Tink stops a man chasing Molly. Tink “delivered a kick to his nose that made him yelp in pain and veer sideways, his blade harmlessly slicing the air.”
- Shining Pearl sees “the body of a pirate . . . an arrow sticking out of his chest, a reminder of the battle that had taken place here when the Scorpions had overrun the fort. Shining Pearl stared at the body. It looked ghastly pale in the moonlight.”
- A man chases George with a knife. “George, unable to get away, closed his eyes, waiting for the pain of the blade.” George gets away.
- The boys drop anything they can find on men who are chasing their ship. “The missiles hit two of the men on the head, causing them to fall back into their boat.”
- When men fire on the boys’ ship, several are hit. “George heard a high-pitched scream and saw Thomas crumple to the deck, holding his leg. He felt a thud in his left arm, as though somebody had punched him; he looked down and saw blood. A second later, he felt the searing pain.”
- The boys break Molly’s father out of prison with a cannon. “A second cannonball slammed into the dungeon wall directly outside their cell, hurling all three occupants to the ground in a hail of flying stone. . . Blood poured from Leonard’s chin, where he’d been cut by a shard of masonry, but they were otherwise unhurt.”
- Captain Hook joins in a sword fight. “Bellowing fearsomely and wielding the sword with a pirate’s ruthless efficiency, he began hacking his way through the soldiers.”
- Zarboff is eaten by his own pet snake. “Zarboff emitted a few panicked cries . . . And then he could no longer breathe; he could only struggle in silent horror as his beloved pet began the slow, relentless process of feeding on him.”
- When his people are enslaved, Fighting Prawn leads a rebellion. “The three remaining Scorpion guards, clearly stunned by the revolt, at first tried to run toward the tunnel; but, finding their path blocked, had backed against the cavern wall, lashing out with whips and knives while shouting for help. But no help came, and the Scorpions were soon brought down by a hail of rocks hurled by the slaves they had once tormented.”
- While rebelling against their captors, “Fighting Prawn and his men slammed into the gate, knocking the two Scorpions to the ground. Neither would ever get up again.”
- Mister Grin, a giant crocodile, eats the Scorpion chief. “Fighting Prawn was knocked sideways by the mighty croc just as it reached the Scorpion chief, who drew his spear back in a desperate effort to defend himself. He had no time to bring it forward. The monstrous maw opened wide, then snapped shut. The Scorpion chief was gone.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- When George hears tale of an underwater ship, he says, “I think the dolphins got into the grog.”
- Molly and George are able to sneak off a ship because “the crew doz[ed] off after a bit too much food and grog.”
- A man says, “Who the devil are you?”
- Captain Hook calls people “idjit” several times.
- Tink calls people “idiots” four times.
- A monkey tells Tink, “The birds around here are idiots.”
- Tink calls Molly “a big stupid fish” and a “cow.”
- Starcatchers are “a small group of people . . . There have been Starcatchers on Earth for centuries, Peter. Even we don’t know how long. But our task is always the same: to watch for the starstuff, and to get to it, and return it, before it falls into the hands of the Others.” The Others misuse starstuff to gain power.
- Starstuff is golden dust that sometimes falls from the sky as meteors and “has amazing power . . . Wonderful power. Terrible power. It . . . it lets you do things . . . It’s not the same for everybody. And it’s not the same for animals as for people.” Starstuff can heal, can make people fly, or can even make people strong. Molly explains that larger quantities are more dangerous and can kill a person, or turn a fish into a mermaid, horses into centaurs, and other transformations.
- Starcatchers have learned the language of porpoises, bears, and wolves. They work together often to find and return any starstuff that falls to earth.
- Some fish on Peter’s island were turned into mermaids by starstuff.
- Molly’s father turned a bird into a fairy, to watch over Peter. Her name is Tink. She calls herself a “birdgirl.”
- Peter was exposed to a large quantity of starstuff. As a result, he can fly permanently and will never grow older.
- A shadow creature called Lord Ombra has many abilities and seems to be more shadow than man. Lord Ombra can read thoughts if he touches a person’s shadow. He can also steal shadows, which allows him to control and/or impersonate that person.
- Lord Ombra says “There are two conflicting sides in what you call the universe. On one side is creation, being light; on the other side is destruction, nothingness, darkness. . . I am darkness.” Ombra explains that starstuff falling to earth is what makes life grow on earth.”
by Morgan Lynn