There is nothing better than a weekend with lots of reading time, especially when the books you spend your time reading turn out to be terrific. I don’t give out 5 stars to books very often. I’ve read 54 books this year, and Tigerheart by Peter David is the 5th book I consider a 5-star read. It is based on Barrie’s Peter Pan, but it’s not a sequel or a prequel – more of Peter Pan in an alternate universe. A re-telling of the story. David was gutsy to take on one of the most beloved children’s stories of all time – it could have failed in a big, big way. Fotunately for him, it works, and works brilliantly.
This book is everything you could possibly want in a novel: adventure, magic, love, danger, truth, tragedy, and triumph. The best thing is that this is a children’s novel in the same way that the Harry Potter books are “children’s books.” By which I mean that anyone who loves a good story will appreciate this book.
Tigerheart is the story of Paul Dear. Paul’s father has regaled him with stories about The Boy and his magical land, Anyplace, where The Boy fights pirates and saves Indian princesses and has a pixie for a sidekick. When Paul’s new baby sister dies, his mother changes, and Paul is determined to find a new baby sister for her – in Anyplace. His adventures with The Boy, Fiddlefix, Gwenny, the White Tiger, and the Vagabonds demand more of him than he ever imagined, and make more of him than he ever thought he could be.
After reading the first chapter, I knew I wanted to read this aloud to the kids, but I needed to read it quickly so I could comment on the book’s forum for Del Rey Books. I will definitely be coming back to it in the next few months so that I can share it with the kids. The author’s style is not as much narrator as it is storyteller, complete with asides and advice to the readers. This is all done delightfully tongue-in-cheek, and makes for many laugh-out-loud moments. For example, here is Paul’s first meeting with the pixie, Fiddlefix:
She was clad in a skeleton leaf, or at least the remains of one, and she was a bit rounder in the hips than most women preferred – which was not something Paul noticed, being a boy and not understanding women.
But take heart! If he is fortunate enough to survive all that is going to happen to him before we take our leave of him – and we must tell you that his survival is not remotely guaranteed – then his reward, such as it is, will be to become an adult man and still not understand women. ~p. 38
Here are the storyteller’s words during a scene where The Boy is battling a fierce storm:
The Boy was helpless.
We must now take the briefest of side steps to address what we’re sure has just occurred to you, in order to make clear that certain apparent inconsistencies are, in fact, not. And if these have not occurred to you, be not angry with us that we are interrupting our narrative for a short time to deal with them, but rather focus your ire on the quality of your education that you didn’t notice what we are about to tell you. ~ p. 188
Tigerheart is due to be released on June 17th. I hope that this won’t be Peter David’s only adventure in Anyplace.