Friday, November 16, 2007

The Neverland Books

by Steven Williams

Dave Barry color photographDave Barry is a syndicated humor comumnist who has also written about thirty books and has won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. His books Dave Barry Turns 40 and Dave Barry's Greatest Hits have been used as the basis for the TV sitcom Dave's World. He was born in New York. Initially he worked as a reporter and business writing instructor for a business consulting firm. In 1983 he was hired as a humor oclumnist for the Miami Herald and it is hear that he made his mark, notably including the award of his Pulitzer Prize. His writing has included fiction and his first novel Big Trouble was made into the motion picture of the same name and starring Tim Allen and Rene Russo. He was involved in the film adaptation of his book Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys. Since 2004, Barry has taken an indefinite leave of ansence from his weekly humor column to spend more time with his family but has continued writing humor and most notably has been working with Ridley Pearson on a series of Peter Pan prequal fantasy adventures called The Neverland books.

Ridley Pearson color paintingRidley Pearson is a noted writer of suspense thrillers. The settings for most of these are in and around Seattle, Washington and most feature a Seattle Police detective and forensic psychologist. Under the pseudonym Joyce Reardon, he produced a book related to Stephen King's Rose Red, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life as Rose Red which has been adapted into the film The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (2003) for which he also wrote the screenplay. Ridley has co-produced and written documentaries for television including one for A&E on Alcoholics Anonymous, and is currently working on a dramatic television series, 'The Culture', for Equinoxe Films. He began his professional career as a singer songwriter in an acoustic rock band and is a founding member of The Rockbottom Remainders.

The Rock Bottom Remainders band characature black and white drawingThe Rock Bottom Remainders is a band made up of the baby boomer literary celebrities Stephen King, Scott Turow, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow, Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles, Matt Groening, James McBride, Roy Blount Jr., Kathi Goldmark, Frank McCourt, and Andy Borowitz. Ridley Pearson plays bass and Dave Barry plays lead guitar. The band plays for literary benefits and it is in this association that Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson became friends. Pearson became interested in doing a book featuring Peter Pan after his daughter asked him how Peter first met Captain Hook. Out of this beginning, the two authors have produced a series of young adult fantasy adventures that are prequals to the events depicted in J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan. The quality of the writing has won the series bestseller success and critical acclaim. Pearson has also began a related series authored by himself and beginning with The Kingdom Keepers. The members of the band The Rock Bottom Remainders in this performance are, from left to right: Kathi Karmen Goldmark, Amy Tan, Lesley Gore, Greg Iles, Stephen King, Roger McGuinn, Sam Barry, Scott Turow, Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry.

The Rock Bottom Remainders in performance color photograph
A notable addition to The Neverland books by Pearson and Barry are the illustrations provided by Greg Call. Call, an award-winning illustrator is originally from Colorado and studied graphic design at the Colorado Institute of Art in Denver. After graduation he worked professionally as an art directory but then returned to school at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California to receive more training in illustrative work. Upon this second graduation he began working as a freelance illustrator, eventually returning to the Rocky Mountain region eventually settling down to live in northwestern Montana with his wife and two children. He uses a variety of media and his style is noted for a flexibility ranging from super-realism to caricature. His clients have included Disney, TOR, Time Warner, Harper-Collins, Daw, Penguin Putnam, Random House, Simon and Schuster, Moody, Fresh Design, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, The National Football League, Capitol Records, Curb Records, Priority Records, A and M Records, Sega. Call has provided both the color cover illustrations and the interior black and white illustrations for The Neverland series of books by Barry and Pearson and the style he has chosen for this series provides a richly detailed and believable fantasy world.

black and white illustration by Greg Call for The Neverland series

The pirates Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson black and white photographs

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call front coverPeter and the Starcatchers (2004)
Written Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and illustrated by Greg Call, this book in The Neverland series of books is a a swashbuckling pirate adventure told with a bit of goofy, modern eight-year-old boy humor. A fourteen year old girl is one of the main characters of this book. She is a Starcatcher's apprentice. It turns out that the powers of genius come from starstuff that occasionally falls to Earth. The Starcatchers' job is to watch for these 'falls' of Starstuff and gather it up before it falls into the hands of those who would use it for evil. At this time, Peter Pan is the leader of a group of orphaned boys traveling abord the ship Never Land on their way into slavery in the court of a powerful king. The girl's stories about the starstuff intrigue Peter and he works with the young girl to keep a mystery trunk full of the stuff out of the clutches of a host of evildoers, including a terrible pirate and the king. The story is fast paced and includes a variety of characters including mermaids, redskins, and the crocodile, all portents for Peter's later adventures.

The Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson front coverThe Kingdom Keepers (2005)
This book written by Ridley Pearson alone is a fantasy thriller in which five young teens are chosen as guides at Walt Disney World. Once there they find themselves pitted against classic Disney villains in their very real and very dangerous manifestations. The center of the story is a plot by Maleficent, the evil witch, who hs working to destroy Disney. The kids hang out at the park after it closes to look for signs and portents that guide them to sources of Disney creative power.

Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call front coverPeter and the Shadow Thieves (2006)
Another of The Neverland books written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and illustrated by Greg Call. This book is a follow-up adventure to 'Peter and the Starcatchers'. An evil half human half monster with terrible powers, including the ability to make shadows disappear, learns that there is a trunk of starstuff in London. With it this monster realizes it can rule the world and so it sets out with a crew of evil characters sail to London to capture the Starstuff. Peter and Tinker Bell follow him with to London. Once Peter Pan and Tinker Bell arrive in London, they join up with the young Starcatcher's apprentice from their previous adventure and set out to both save the girl's kidnapped mother and protect the Starstuff from the monstrous threat. Another fast paced book in the series featuring chases and near-death adventures in London.

Escape from Carnivale by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call front coverEscape from the Carnivale (2006)
Another Neverland book written by by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and illustrated by Greg Call but aimed at slightly younger readers. A princess of the indian tribe living on the island with Peter Pan and the lost boys, disobeys her father and sets out with her mermaid friends to explore out beyond the seashore of their island. Initially, it is an exciting pearl diving expedition but it leads them into a mysterious and eventually dangerous part of the island. Once there, one of her mermaid friends is captured to be displayed in a traveling freak show. She must overcome terrible storms, Captain Hook, and sea monsters to save her friend.

Cave of the Dark Wind by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call front coverCave of the Dark Wind (2007)
Another Neverland book written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and illustrated by Greg Call for slightly younger readers. Peter Pan is away from the island on an adventure. While he is gone the Lost Boys discover a mysterious cave. Two of the island Indian princesses warn the boys that the cave is dangerous and inhabited by a monster. The boys decide to explore anyway and discover that it contains a famous haunted treasure. Captain Hook finds out about the treasure also and sets out to find the treasure first. His presence causes the children to flee further into the cave where they end up on a dangerous labyrinth deep underground. Unless they can solve the mystery of the cave, they will remain trapped their forever.

Peter and the Secret of Rundoon by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call front coverPeter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007)
The most recent of the young adult fastasy adventure Neverland books written Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson and illustrated by Greg Call. This adventure acts as the conclusion of the trilogy of young adult fantasy adventures 'Peter and the Starcatchers' and 'Peter and the Shadow Thieves'. Peter and his Starcatcher's apprentice friend are in a dangerous desert land called Rundoon and it is rulled by an evil king. The evil half man half monster from 'Peter and the Shadow Thieves' shows up to make things even more perilous for the kids. They end up fighting to save themselves, the father of the Starcatcher's apprentice, and even the entire planet from the evil threat. While Peter and his friend are trying to save themselves and everything else, back on Peter's home island of Never Land, a war has begun. An Indian princess discovers that she must do the unthinkable and join forces with evil pirates in order to save her people from the terrible Scorpions. Most of this story is a fast paced desert adventure complete with flying camels and magic carpets.

The Kingdom Keepers: The Rise of Chernabog (2008)
This is another book written just by Ridley Pearson and related to the adventurous Neverland series. It is intended to be released in the Summer of 2008 but details are hush hush for now. It is interesting to know that Chernabog is the giant, devilish monster depicted in the Night on Bald Mountain segment of Walt Disney's Fantasia (1940). Chernabog apparently is a huge demon who comes out only at night and who seems to have some powers to control the souls of the dead.

Chernabog color illustration by Paul Reilly based on Walt Disney's Fantasia

Newer Article: Robert M. Utley, acclaimed historian of the American West


Older Article: Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series

Creative Commons License
Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Greg Call, and 'The Neverland Books' by Steven Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available by contacting Steven Williams through Bookmarc's BookmarcsOnline.

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