Title: Peter and the Shadow Thieves
Series: Sequel to Peter and the Starcatchers
Author: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Narrator: Jim Dale
ISBN: 9781597374583
Pages: 556 pages
Discs: 9 CDs, 10 hours
Publisher/Date: Hyperion Books for Children, c2006.

James studied Peter, frowning. “Peter,” he said, “what did you mean when you said there isn’t much time?”
Peter looked at his friends. He felt a tightness in his throat. “I have to go to England,” he said.
“What?” said all three. Peter looked down, not wanting to see the fear on their faces.
“But how?” asked James. “Even if you could fly all that way, how could you find it? The sea is enormous.”
“I know,” said Peter. “I’ll have to follow the ship.”
“The ship?” said Thomas. “The very bad men’s ship?”
Peter nodded.
“But what if they see you?” said James. “What happens when you get tired? Where will you sleep?”
“I dunno,” said Peter. “But I have to try. I have no choice. I can’t just stay here and do nothing while they go after Lord Aster and . . . and Molly.”
Tink made an unpleasant sound. She did not care for Molly. (88-89)

In the second installment of Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s prequels to Barrie’s Peter Pan, Peter finds himself returning to London as a stow away on the ship of some very bad men. These men include some old faces, like Slank, but the biggest, baddest of everyone is Lord Ombra, who is capable of controlling people by stealing their shadows. After tracking the large collection of starstuff to Mollusk Island, they follow the trail to Lord Aster. Aster has received word of their impending arrival and has fled with it to the sight of the return, leaving Molly and her mother under the watchful care of three guards. But it is Peter who must find her in time in the filthy and foreign street of London, come to her rescue, and save the day.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the first book as an audiobook, and the second book in the series of (currently) four was just as enjoyable. If you have never heard Jim Dale narrate, then this is a wonderful introduction, and it’s no wonder that he has won the awards that he has. You get carried away on this magical, starstuff enabled ride. With short chapters, some not even a page long, and multiple instances of foreshadowing and suspense, it’s one you’ll want to listen to long after the lights go down or the car has stopped.

Does anyone else find it ironic that Dave Barry is writing about characters first created by J.M. Barrie? In any case, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have created comical and memorable characters, like the drunk that Peter encounters upon first arriving in London.

“A good name, Peter,” said Old Trumpy. He raised the bottle to his lips and tried to take a swig, only to discover that it was empty. Disappointed, he set the bottle down again, then continued: “I had a dog once named Peter. Or maybe it was a cat. It was an animal of some kind, that much I recall. But it might not have been named Peter.” […]
“What did you say your name was again?” he said.
“Peter.” […]
He raised the bottle to his lips again, only to discover that it was still empty. […]
He attempted another swig from the bottle. Empty still. […]
Then he tried another swig from the bottle, which, to his mild surprise and considerable disappointment, remained empty. (168-172)

The city streets of London and the world of Mollusk Island come alive for readers with in-depth descriptions of the climate and location. I thought the character development was handled deftly, with each of the characters given a lot of personality. Several of the characters are remarkably incompetent, which makes them all the more entertaining. The suspense filled drama carries readers away. Tink saves the day more than once, which will have girls cheering on the feisty little pixie — I mean fairy, I mean birdgirl. A great family adventure for long car rides.