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Grade 6 Up–Opening with young James's arrival at Eton and following him to the beginning of his life at sea, this is a disturbing and engaging portrait of a young villain. At school, he feuds with the young Arthur Darling and falls in love with the forbidden Sultana Ananova. After taking his revenge on Darling and pursuing Ananova, James and his friend Roger join the crew of the Sea Witch, a ragged ship with a cruel captain. When its identity as a slave ship is revealed, James sides with the slaves to earn his own name, Hook. Throughout the story, his dreams of finding a magical Neverland set the stage for his future role in Barrie's classic story. Hart, whose screenwriting credits include the movie Hook, has taken information from Barrie's Peter Pan, including his protagonist's attendance at Eton, his yellow blood, and his unusual appearance, and used it to create a character of his own. James's illegitimate status and its prominence in the story seems to be Hart's own invention, and while it provides ample motivation for James's actions, it takes away from the story's appeal to younger Peter Pan fans, who may also be confused by some aspects of British school life. This is a much darker Pan prequel than Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's Peter and the Starcatchers (Hyperion, 2004). Helquist's illustrations add slightly to the text, but seem an attempt to appeal to Unfortunate Events fans. Overall, this is a detailed look both at Victorian life and what a young Hook may have been like.–Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI
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Gr. 7-10. Hart wrote the screenplay for the 1991 film Hook and in this sprawling novel, he imagines the notorious villain's troubled youth. When he enters England's storied Eton school as a teen, James (the future Hook) has never known his mother and has only met his aristocratic father a few times. He channels his loneliness and rage into superior scholarship, plotting wild "devices of revenge" against sadistic classmates. At last, he escapes to the high seas, but he unwittingly boards a slave ship that reveals horrifying brutality and family secrets. Hart's novel is much more challenging and dense than Peter and the Starcatchers (2004), Ridley Pearson's and Dave Barry's spin on the Peter Pan story. The elevated language, slow pacing, and lengthy specifics of swordplay and Etonian culture may deter some readers; others may be startled by the bloody torture, both at school and at sea. Still, some determined, sophisticated readers will be pulled in by the magical, tall-tale details; James' triumph over bullies; the exciting adventures; and the thought-provoking portrait of a villain who is capable of both murder and great sympathy. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
James Matthew is a very strange boy, with his long and curly black hair, yellow blood, ability to speak with spiders, and exaggerated sense of revenge. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kurt A. Johnson
And that's coming from an adult! It's a great look at Captain Hook's early life with plenty of shenanigans that you know he'd get into.Published 15 months ago by Allison Perrone
I was so happy to receive this book and in good condition. I would definatly recommend this product to anyone who wonders about captain hook's background.Published 17 months ago by amanda
What kind of a childhood results in becoming one of the literary world's greatest villains? According to J.L. Read morePublished 23 months ago by PDXbibliophile
I loved this book when I borrowed it from a friend and wanted my own hard back edition. What I got was hardback but looked as if it had been dropped in water and then a weight... Read morePublished on February 11, 2013 by Davin Lane
April 28, 2009
Have you ever wondered "Who is Captain Hook?" What about "Why the pirate flag is called the "Jolly Roger? Read more
For those that are smitten with the story of Peter Pan by James Barrie let me assure you, you will not be disappointed with Capt Hook. In fact, you will be hooked. Read morePublished on December 1, 2008 by Tinker Bell
I have always had a fascination for the villains of classic literature and film. Capt. Hook is one of those novels I've been meaning to read for years and eventually got around to. Read morePublished on October 31, 2008 by M. Adams
i thought that this was a very cool book that explains some of the msunderstandings in "peter Pan in scarlet". Read morePublished on July 9, 2007 by L. Gunneson