What happens when you ask your parents one of those tough questions? You know, the ones that really stump them: "Why is the sky blue?" "What's at the top of the food chain?" or "Where do babies come from?"
Do they clear their throats a lot and then come up with words that don't really make sense or answer your question? Or maybe they go to an encyclopedia or the Internet and try to help you find the answer.
If you've ever been frustrated by the answer you've gotten from a parent to one of those really important, really tough questions, you're going to love the story of Paige Pearson and her dad, Ridley.
One night about two years ago, Ridley Pearson (a famous writer of books for adults) was reading a Peter Pan story to his then 5-year-old daughter, Paige. She looked up at him and asked, "Dad, how exactly did Peter Pan meet Captain Hook?"
Ridley Pearson didn't quite know how to answer the question, and he knew he couldn't look it up in a book. So he decided to write his own version of the story.
Pearson teamed with writer Dave Barry and the result, "Peter and the Starcatchers," was published this month. It's full of action and adventure, pirates and swordplay. Pearson talked with Tracy Grant about writing for kids, his memories of Peter Pan and Paige's reaction to the answer he came up with.
You're known for writing thrillers, books that wouldn't normally be reviewed on the KidsPost page. Why did you and Dave Barry decide to write a children's book?
After Paige asked the question, I said, "Paige, that's its own book and I'm going to write it." I mentioned the project to Dave and his eyes sparkled. We both loved the idea of writing something our kids could read.
You and Dave Barry live in different parts of the country. How did you write this book together?
Each of us wrote a set of characters and then turned it over to the other person to edit. Dave would edit the heck out of [what I wrote]. Then I'd edit the heck out of his edit. Some chapters went through four edits; some went through eight. Dave hammered my stuff and I hammered his. But we never moved on until we were happy with a chapter. It really was a fun experience.
Were you a fan of the original Peter Pan as a child?
I love the story -- the idea of flying as a kid is so incredible. It took imagination to believable limits and captures the sense of a kid's wonderment. After all, we've all sneaked out of our houses, and that's essentially what Peter does.
What advice do you have for kids who want to be writers?
Don't stop writing. I write 5,000 pages to get 400 pages published. Also, the way you become a better writer is to read. . . . Take a little block of time, put your seat in the chair and don't take any excuse to leave it. That's how you become a writer.
Do you plan to write more kids' books?
Yes. The original prequel to Peter Pan was seen as a trilogy. We have outlined the second novel, which gets darker and deals with more issues. In the third novel, Peter will be forced to leave his shadow in the house in London.
Is Paige pleased with how you answered her question?
She loves the book. She's mentioned on the dedication page and she always manages to open the book to that page. She really just jumped into reading this year and she read it front to back in four weeks (it has about 400 pages). She came running into the room so proudly to tell Mom and Dad, "I'm finished!"
for his daughter Paige.* To read an excerpt from "Peter and the Starcatchers," go to www.washingtonpost.com/kidspost.