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Video: Al’s Book Club: A Peter Pan prequel

  1. Transcript of: Al’s Book Club: A Peter Pan prequel

    AL ROKER reporting: My mike is not working. OK. Oh, do you hear me? They hear me now. Brian , they hear me now? Get out of here . OK. Thank you very much . Get out of here Brian . OK. We're celebrating the Children's Book Week with " Peter and the Starcatchers ." It's the fast-paced prequel to the beloved children's classic " Peter Pan ." It introduces readers to an adventure on the high seas. We meet an orphaned boy named Peter , his new friend Molly , and the evil Black Stache for the first time . Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson are the authors of " Peter and the Starcatchers ." And we want to welcome back our AL'S BOOK CLUB FOR KIDS kids, Jack Townsend , Sydney Robles , and Samara McCallum . And also, joining us live, a special guest, Jordan from Louisiana . And good morning to everybody.

    Mr. DAVE BARRY: Good morning.

    Mr. RIDLEY PEARSON: Hi, Al.

    ROKER: Well, first of all, we start with some sad news. Maurice Sendak , who's the celebrated children's author, of course, " Where the Wild Things Are ," died at the age of 83. Your thoughts?

    Mr. PEARSON: Brilliant guy. And not just a children's author but my favorite thing that he ever said was that of all the things he'd done, that writing for children was the most fun for him because they are the most intense critics. They're the best readers, the best critics.

    Mr. BARRY: Which we found, too. They're just the most fun to write for.

    ROKER: Is it really?

    Mr. BARRY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

    ROKER: The most -- the most, in a sense, satisfying?

    Mr. PEARSON: They like story and they are deadly honest.

    ROKER: Yeah. Well...

    Mr. BARRY: Yeah. They don't like what you did, they'll tell you up front.

    ROKER: They'll let you know in a hurry.

    Mr. PEARSON: Yeah.

    ROKER: Our book club kids actually got a real treat. They got to -- they got to go to the Broadway show that's based on your book.

    Mr. BARRY: Yeah?

    ROKER: Nominated for nine Tony Awards . They got a special backstage tour from Celia Keenan-Bolger , who plays Molly . So have you guys seen the show and do you like it?

    Mr. BARRY: We've not only seen it, we auditioned for Tinkerbell .

    Mr. PEARSON: Yeah.

    Mr. BARRY: We -- it's phenomenal. We wrote an adventure story for kids and they turned it into this -- Rick Ellis genius man...

    Mr. PEARSON: Rick Ellis , who is phenomenal.

    Mr. BARRY: ...made a hilarious Broadway show out of it.

    ROKER: That's terrific. Well let's start -- you get -- find out with our kids. First of all, did you guys like the play?

    Ms. SAMARA McCALLUM: Yes.

    Mr. JACK TOWNSEND: Yes.

    Ms. SYDNEY ROBLES: It was really unique. Really cool to see.

    ROKER: Wow, unique. I like that.

    Mr. PEARSON: Yeah.

    ROKER: Let's start off with Jack. Jack , what's your question?

    Mr. TOWNSEND: Hi, Mr. Pearson. Hi, Mr. Barry. It's such a great honor to meet both of you. I thought the idea of star stuff coming from falling stars was neat. How do you compare the power of star stuff to the power of pixie dust ?

    Mr. PEARSON: Hm.

    ROKER: Ooh .

    Mr. BARRY: That's a good question. We were -- we were kind of looking for a way to sort of explain something that you can't really explain, which is the magic in Peter Pan . And we thought, well, if -- we come up with this idea of stuff falls from the sky that has this power to change people, which would be sort of like the -- this pixie dust that J.M. Barrie talks about.

    ROKER: Wow, that's pretty neat. And now we've got Sydney , what's your question?

    Ms. ROBLES: Hi , good morning. The traits of the main characters, Peter Pan and Black Stache , more commonly known as Captain Hook , are very well known and loved by many people. How, if at all, did this influence your writing of the book or make it more challenging?

    Mr. PEARSON: We sort of stayed away from trying to pretend we were following in J.M. Barrie 's footsteps and we just wanted to create really fun characters and there was some stuff already laid out for us.

    ROKER: That's nice. Now, Samara , you've got a great question, I know.

    Ms. SAMARA McCALLUM: Good morning, Mr. Barry and Mr. Pearson . My -- many people decide to write books on their own. What made you decide that working in a pair would work better?

    ROKER: Hmm.

    Mr. BARRY: Well, we play in a rock band together called the Rock Bottom Remainders .

    Mr. PEARSON: And we're terrible.

    Mr. BARRY: Yeah, its a horrible band. We play hard listening music. It's our genre. But that's how we met. We became friends, and Ridley 's daughter had the idea for this book and that's...

    Mr. PEARSON: Yeah. She asked me one day how Peter Pan met Captain Hook . I was playing one of these shows a week later and staying with Dave , and I mentioned this, and his eyes kind of went wide, and we thought, with his crazy humor and my crazy suspense, maybe we could make a fun book together.

    ROKER: What a great idea. And now let's go to Louisiana . We've got Jordan , 10-year-old Jordan joining us via Skype . Jordan , what's your question?

    JORDAN: Hi. My question was, why did you make Mister Grin a huge crocodile?

    ROKER: Ah.

    Mr. BARRY: We wanted to explain -- there's a crocodile in J.M. Barrie 's " Peter Pan ."

    Mr. PEARSON: Tick-tock. Tick-tock .

    Mr. BARRY: He ticks and tocks. And we thought it would be fun if he -- we had a gigantic crocodile on our island that gets changed by the star stuff.

    Mr. PEARSON: And he's able to float and fly.

    Mr. BARRY: Yeah.

    ROKER: Hmm. All right. Well, you guys had -- must have had a good time playing in that band. Came up with a lot of good stuff.

    Mr. BARRY: I remember the '60s, Al.

    ROKER: Oh, yeah! Actually, I don't sadly.

    Mr. PEARSON: Whoo! That crocodile is flying.

    ROKER: Well, let's find out how our kids rated this book on a scale of one to five stars. " Peter and the Starcatchers "...

    Mr. PEARSON: Whoa!

    ROKER: Yes! Five stars.

    Mr. BARRY: Thank you.

    Mr. PEARSON: Thank you.

    ROKER: Very nice. Dave , Ridley , kids, thank you so much . Jordan , you, as well. And if you have a child between the ages of 9 and 12 who would like the chance to be our next guest kid, head to today.com. Want to reveal our next book, it is, here we go, "When You Reach Me" by Rebecca Stead. That's going to be our next book. Guys, thank you so much . Gentlemen, thank you. Always great to see you.

Disney Editions
By
TODAY books
updated 3/22/2012 9:42:40 AM ET 2012-03-22T13:42:40

In this gripping prequel to the classic story of Peter Pan, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson imagine a rich, colorful pirate adventure aboard the ship Never Land. Here's an excerpt.

MISTER GRIN

The glowing eyes were coming.

“Get behind me, lads!” shouted Alf, crouching, preparing to fight—but what, he wasn’t sure.

Peter, ignoring Alf, dropped to hands and knees, looking in the gloom for a weapon. He grabbed a heavy bone—Must be a leg, he thought—then found its mate, which he handed to Alf.

The thing was coming fast, now. The cage echoed with the sound of claws scrabbling on the floor, and massive weight being dragged closer, closer. Now Peter could see the massive, flat head. And now the glowing eyes disappeared from view as the thing opened the biggest mouth Peter had ever seen, lined top and bottom with jagged teeth as big as daggers, a gaping cavern of a mouth that easily could have taken him in whole. The cage echoed with a monstrous, bone-chilling roar. Then the enormous mouth snapped shut with a sound like a gunshot and the thing sprang forward at its prey.

Meet the new kids in Al's Book Club

“NO!” bellowed Alf, leaping forward to meet it, swinging the leg bone down hard with both hands onto the massive charging snout, and right in time. The bone broke in two; the creature stopped for a moment, as if surprised. Then it snapped again, and lunged at Alf, who sidestepped, trying to draw it away from the boys. His ploy worked; the thing turned toward him, pivoting its huge body, sending its massive tail—a tail, Peter now saw, that was the size of a longboat—sweeping across the wall, sending Peter and the other boys flying.

“COME ON, YOU DEVIL!” Alf was shouting. “COME ON AND FIGHT LIKE A MAN!” He was walking backward, trying to keep his eye on the monster as he looked around desperately for another weapon. Peter lunged to his feet and followed, careful to keep out of the way of that terrible tail, his plan being to toss the other leg bone to Alf. As the tail swept back and forth, Peter jumped over it as though it was a jumprope.

“ALF!” he yelled.

“STAY BACK, BOY!” shouted Alf. “ST—UNH.”

Alf was down. He’d tripped on a skull, and he’d hit his head hard. He moaned and rolled sideways, but did not get up. The monster opened its mouth again; it would be eating Alf in another step.

“NO!” screamed Peter, leaping forward, again dodging the sweeping tail, and bringing his bone-club smashing down on the thing’s hard, scaly back. “NO! NO! NO!” he shouted, each time striking it again. The monster whirled and snapped, moving far faster than Peter expected. Peter jerked his hands back just far enough, but the bone was caught, instantly crunched to splinters in the monster’s massive jaws.

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Now it was Peter’s turn to scramble backward, with the thing turning in his direction, coming after him . . . coming, coming . . . its glowing eyes strangely dispassionate, a hungry beast about to do its work. As Peter backed away, he simultaneously crouched and felt around his feet for another bone . . . for anything . . . He touched nothing but hard ground. He backed up some more. Hit something hard.

The wall.

He was trapped in the corner.

The monster paused, as if knowing Peter had no way out.

It halted and then slowly opened its massive mouth, close enough now that Peter could smell its musty, fetid breath.

He could have reached out and touched the dagger teeth that were about to tear into his flesh.

Peter closed his eyes and held out his hands in a futile gesture of self-protection, and as he did . . .

“Peter!” shouted a voice.

Molly!

He opened his eyes and saw her hovering above him, waving something.

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“Here!” she shouted, dropping it.

He caught it. The locket. He fumbled frantically at it, but could not find a catch.

“It won’t open!” he shouted.

The beast moved closer, its jaws wide open.

“There’s a button on the side,” shouted Molly.

Closer.

Hands shaking, Peter found the button, and the locket sprang open. Instantly his hands disappeared inside a glowing sphere.

“Touch the inside part!” shouted Molly

Peter put his finger into the heart of the sphere, and immediately he felt his body start to rise, felt his feet leave the floor. . . .

Too late.

He saw it in an instant; the jaws were closing, and they would catch him.

Too late.

Instinctively, Peter struck out at the closing jaws; his right hand, with the locket still in it, landed directly on the tip of the monster’s snout, which was suffused by the sphere.

The jaws stopped, half open, half closed.

The monster made a noise—not a roar, this time; more of a groan, or even a sigh.

And then, slowly, slowly, the monster began to rise from the floor of the cage, its body perfectly still, and in the light from the locket, Peter—who was also rising, slowly—could finally see its true size. It has to be twenty-five feet long, he thought. Maybe thirty feet. It must weigh a ton.

But it rose like a feather, the monster did; rose as easy as a bit of ash carried by a wisp of smoke, up, up, and then over the thick log wall. And then, with a flick of its tail, it drifted, still sighing, off into the jungle night.

Reprinted from "Peter and the Starcatchers" by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson © 2006 by Disney Editions.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

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